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Ship " Danube;^ 

February 8, 1878. 

On the 28th December, 1877, my husband 
received a sudden order to proceed with his regi- 
ment to the Cape. The notice was short, for 
the emergency was pressing, and he was absent 
at the time on leave ; but by the end of ten 
days we had settled our aflfairs, given up our 
z house — for it had been arranged that any of the 
ladies who chose to accompany their husbands 
should have a passage given them in the troop- 
ship — taken leave of our exceedingly juvenile 
baby, and were watching the receding shores of 



Southampton from the deck of the Union Com- 
pany's steamship Danube. 

The voyage was much as all voyages are. The 
bay was fortunately in one of its mildest moods, 
and most of us were able to enjoy the approach 
to Madeira, and admire the bold outline of the 
island, as the Danube ploughed her way through 
the heavy sea. Funchal looked so tempting that 
January evening, its white houses contrasting so 
well with the bright green vineyards. Above, 
towered the mountain gloomy and jagged, but 
bathed in a soft, hazy light that made the very 
darkness look tender and winning. It was a great 
disappointment to us not being able to go ashore, 
but there is no harbour there nor pier, and such an 
ugly line of surf was breaking on the beach, that 
it would hardly have been safe to land. The 
natives, however, made nothing of it, and crowded 
round us in their crazy little cockle-shells, selling 
the baskets and wicker-work chairs which are the 
great specialty here. Then there were boats 
crammed to overflowing with dark-skinned boys, 
all gabbling to each other in Portuguese, and 
oflfering to dive for the coins and tobacco which 
the men threw in most lavishly. They have such 


quick eyes that they never failed to trace a six- 
penny or a threepenny piece as it sank ; and 
pounced after it like otters, never seeming to mind 
whether they pitched themselves into the water 
head over heels, or any way which came first. 

The deck was crowded with men selling Ma- 
deira work and jewellery, photographs and fruit, 
each volubly impressing us with the supreme 
excellence of his particular goods, and the absolute 
worthlessness of everybody^ else's. 

Our few hours' rest was over all too soon. The 
flotilla of cockle-boats put oflF for the shore, one 
or two of them capsizing in the scramble, the 
owners of which supported themselves in the 
water with one hand, while they endeavoured to 
draw in their floating capital of guavas, oranges, 
and cabbages with the other. 

By the evening lovely Madeira, with its soft 
yet bright colouring, had sunk like a fairy island 
in the west, and we were told that the first time 
the Danvhe cast anchor we should be actually in 
Africa ! 

The voyage was not distinguished by any un- 
usual incidents. There were the regulation the- 
atricals, .in which we were struck dumb with 


admiration at each other's hitherto latent dramatic 
talent, followed by an unexpected and most ex- 
cellent champagne supper, at which we were the 
guests of the captain. There was the musical 
entertainment given by the soldiers, with the 
sailors to assist, in which they disguised them- 
selves as niggers and sang songs, many of which 
contained allusions to our present expedition 
embodied in verses the quality of which was 
undeniable, even if the quantity were sometimes 
a little wanting from a technical point of view. 

There was also the regulation storm after we 
had crossed the Line, which lasted for twenty-four 
hours, and came on so suddenly that it tore one 
of the sails to bits before it could be reefed. The 
screaming of the wind was deafening, and the 
forked lightning splendid all round the ship. 
It was a brilliant mauve-and-rose colour, and 
lit up the ship at night like day, all the colours 
of the ladies' dresses and the oflBcers' mess-jackets 
showing up as bright as possible. The thunder 
would have been grander if there had been any 
echo. The sea was as still as a lake, all the time 
a sort of grey, oily-looking expanse, and the sky 
almost seemed to touch it. The men on the 


rigging looked most picturesque, while the light- 
ning ran about the sky and seemed to pour into 
the sea like streams of fire. 

The flying fish, too, were not wanting, and, 
as usual, of course one flew on deck, then expired, 
looking much like a herring with a very flat head 
and great eyes. I was disappointed to see how 
small the little transparent fins are, with which 
they fly in a jerking way, like a sparrow or a 
canary. They looked like flights of swallows 
skimming close to the top of the waves. When 
the sun dries their wings, they drop into the 
water again. 

On February 5 we anchored again at Port 
Elizabeth, having only caught a. transient vision 
of Capetown and Table Bay as we swept past 
without stopping. 

Those amongst us who had been feeding their 
imaginations by picturing a land of " sunny foun- 
tains " and " golden sands," according to the 
gorgeous imagery of poets (which is clearly to be 
understood in a sense peculiar to itself), had now 
to surrender an illusion. I frankly own that, for 
my part, I had expected to feast my eyes on groves 
of palm trees fringing the shore, and was horribly 


disappointed at seeing a commonplace-looking 
town, not very unlike Aldershot, apparently 
dropped from the skies upon the beach, grilling in 
the pale orange light, with a treeless waste of sand 
surrounding it on every side. 

I was told that there were fine trees on the 
other side of the hill, and my husband and I took 
the trouble of landing and climbing it to see ; 
but, except some oleanders and hedges of prickly 
pear, which latter have left mementoes of them- 
selves sticking in my fingers that will last for 
days to come, we could discover nothing to re- 
ward our exertions. 

We therefore paid a brief visit to the town, 
which contains some really fine buildings, and 
returned to our ship, where we consoled ourselves 
by giving graphic accounts of the magnificent 
scenery to be enjoyed on the other side of the 
hill, to such of our friends as had been too lazy to 
go ashore. 

For the last two days we have been ^teaming 
along past the coast of Kafirland, immensely 
excited at being able to discern through opera- 
glasses the dusky figures ef the lords of the soil, 
and the funny little beehive huts in which they 


In another couple of days we expect to be at 
Durban ; and already the bustle of packing up, 

and hunting in the light-baggage room for our 
respective boxes, betokens approaching dis- 

We passed East London, with its terrible bar, 
two days ago, and were in rather rough water, as 
was exhibited by the feet of an old lady nearly 
seventy years of age, one of the civilian pas- 
sengers, suddenly disappearing under the saloon 
table in the middle of dinner. The consternation 
of the rest of the party will be easily imagined 
when her seat was suddenly discovered to be 
vacant, all that was visible being a pair of poor 
old hands feebly clutching amongst the plates and 
glasses on the table. 

We are all quite sorry that the moment has 
almost arrived for us to quit the Danube^ where 
we have spent three very happy weeks, and face 
the difficulties and discomforts that may be await- 
ing us in a new country. 



Boyal Hotely Durban, 

February 12, 1878. 

Here we are amongst the Kafirs at last, having 
arrived, after our twenty-eight days' voyage, in 
the rainy season, with the atmosphere just like a 
forcing-house ! 

We did not meet with quite the reception we 
had expected, for, there being no cable to this 
place, the authorities had no idea that more troops 
were being sent here. So, when the Danube 
anchored opposite the Bluff, they boarded us, 
though there was a high sea running, to ask 
why we had come. We said to protect them 
from the Kafirs ; and those of us who had been 
drawing lively pictures of an affrighted popula- 
tion welcoming us with open arms, were not a 
little crest-fallen at being told there was no 


war going on, nor rumour of anything but a 
little skirmishing some hundreds of miles up 

The sea being so rough, we were obliged to 

remain another night on board, while the 80th 

pitched a camp for us near the town. Next 

day we landed — a tremendous undertaking, as we 

had to be transhipped on to a tug-steamer on 

account of a great bar at the mouth of the 

harbour, which can only be got over at high tide, 

and by ships drawing very little water. It was 

a great business scrambling down the ship's 

ladder and over the side of the tug; and the 

women, with whom we went in boats from the 

one to the other, of course made a point of 

screaming their loudest every time there came a 

roll. The men landed in lighters — which were 

attached three at a time to the tug — and had to 

be battened down below, as the boats roll and 

turn completely over on their sides crossing the 

bar. My husband, who went with them, said it 

was simply the Black Hole over again. 

All were thankful to be landed at last, at 
midday, under a blazing sun, in regular Indian 
heat, at Port Natal. Then came a railway journey 


of about two milea to the town of Durban, the line 
rimning through a sort of low, scrubby bush, 
where we were delighted with the lovely semi- 
tropical ferna and plants — most of them at this 
time in full loaf and flower. Arrived at the 
station, we wore at once surrounded by a crowd 
of Katira, who seized upon our bags and boxes, 
vociferating at the top of their voices, and beg- 
ging UH to follow them in all directions at once. 
** Royal Hotel, missis! Me from Royal Hotel! 
This way, missis ! " " Belgrave Hotel ! Best 
hotel ! ^lo show missis the way to the Belgrave ! " 

** Prince of Wales ! " and so on ; till it ended 

in two of UH forcing our way outside, and setting- 
off to walk, carrying our bags, etc., ourselves, and 
unattended, except by our lady's-maids. At that 
time of the day half the town seemed gone to 
sleep ; and the strange look of the people and the 
buildings, all steeped in an intensely orange light — 
much like what one sees in a panorama — together 
with the strong spicy scents which impregnated 
the air, gave us a feeling as if we were walking 
in a dream, which the blistering heat of the sun 
turned into a sort of nightmare. 

We have not yet wholly shaken off the im- 


pression, in spite of having partaken of an abomin- 
able dinner, and a still worse breakfast, and of 
having enjoyed some hours' rest (?) in beds — 
whereon to lie awake was to be poisoned with 
evil smells, and to sleep, suffocation. 

The whole place has an inexpressibly forlorn 
and neglected air, reminding one of the haunted 
house in Hood's poem, overshadowed as it is in 
front by a huge tree fern, and darkened by a 
rotten-looking balcony. The aspect of the dining- 
room is in itself sufficient to appease the hungry 
traveller, and our appetites had forsaken us by 
the time we had taken our seats in an apartment 
whereof the furniture and appointments were 
those of a well-ordered servants' hall. The floor 
is uncarpeted, and the walls whitewashed, their 
sole decoration consisting of a sort of immense 
hatchment, which occupies nearly one side of the 
room, whereon are emblazoned the royal arms and 
motto. A strip of greenery hangs above the table 
to attract the flies — ^which purpose it undoubtedly 
serves, seeing they completely blacken the table- 
cloth and everything placed upon it, and rise in 
a cloud when disturbed, making almost as mucli 
clatter as a flight of rooks. 


An air of decay pervades the whole place,* 
the only redeeming features of which are the 
amusing freaks of the Kafir waiter, christened 
by some humorous guest, " Day-Martin," and the 
handsome coolie girls who officiate as chamber- 
maids, and who flit noiselesslv about with their 
naked feet, in their amber, scarlet, and rainbow- 
tinted costumes, with arms and ankles covered 
with bangles. How these picturesque draperies 
are wound about them in the first instance, and 
retained in their proper place when on, is a pro- 
voking mystery to us, accustomed as we are to all 
the systematic entanglements of buttons and hooks 
and eyes. And this morning, after watching 
the youngest and best-looking of them making my 
bed, and having in vain tried to make her under- 
stand that I wanted to know how she got into 
and kept inside those amazing garments, I seized 
hold of her, with the view of unwinding the cocoon- 
like foldings in which she was enveloped. But 
whether I offended against her Oriental prejudices 
I know not, for she wrenched her dress out of my 

* Soon after the above was written, the hotel was closed, 
and the property and management has since passed into other 


hand, and, starting away with a cry of terror, 
rolled herself up in the curtains, whence she 
peeped at me with her great brown eyes like a 
frightened deer, and would by no means be per- 
suaded to submit her toilette to examination. Her 
more elderly companion, who had divined my 
purpose, and was enjoying her dismay with fits of 
uproarious laughter, was so obliging as to divest 
herself of a very considerable portion of her 
attire, which she took oflF and put on so many 
times for my benefit, that I was soon able to 
profess my curiosity to be more than satisfied. 

The wet and heat combined make this place so 
unhealthy that we are not to be allowed to stop 
here, and should have moved to the hills at day- 
break, only the rain in the night prevented the 
men from striking the tents. They hope for 
better luck to-morrow. 

A couple of days before we left the ship, a 
very elegantly bound volume made its appearance 
upon the saloon table, in which, we were gravely 
informed by the chief steward, any complaints 
respecting his conduct or the attendance of 
his subordinates were to be entered ; or we were 
at liberty to make any comments we thought 


proper upon the treatment we had received during 
the voyage. Even had any one been so disposed, 
it would have been impossible to have found fault 
with a single arrangement. But English people 
are not very ready at complimentary eflfusions, so, 
though we were all conscious that we should like 
to express our sense of the politeness and atten- 
tion that had been shown us by everybody in 
authority on the ship, we each felt quite unequal 
to putting this sentiment into a suitable form, and 
each trusted that the grateful task would be under- 
taken by one of the other passengers. 

On the second day I peeped into the volume, 
to see which of us had been bold enough to assume 
the office of spokesman, and, finding that no one 
had as yet ventured on the composition of a testi- 
monial, I persuaded one of the civilian passengers 
to copy the following verses into the still virgin 
pages : — 

We, undersigned, 

Are of a mind 
To pnt onr thoughts on paper, 

To say that we 

Have been to sea 
Along with Captain Draper. 

All outward bound 
From Plymouth Sound, 


In Danube trim and taper, 

We steamed away 

For Algoa Bay, 
In charge of Captain Draper. 

We've left the shore 

Three weeks and more, 
And since we cut this Cope-r 

Oar thanks are due 

To mates and crew, 
As well as Captain Draper. 

Attendance, food. 

Have all been good 
Upon this smart sky-scraper; 

We hope we may 

Betnm one day 
In her with Captain Draper. 

And we reflect 

That with respect 
To this bateau a vajpeur, 

The undersigned 

No fault can find. 
Three cheers for Captain Draper ! 

I did not suppose the author would be recog- 
nizedy as none of them had seen the handwriting 
before; but when the secret had leaked out, as 
secrets always do, it met with the usual happy- 
fate of small jokes on board ship, where even the 
very mildest jeu d esprit never fails to gain with a 
cordial reception. 


All the passengers, beginning with our com- 
manding officer, signed their names in turn ; and 
Captain Draper, taking the will for the deed, ex- 
pressed himself grateful for the violent poetical 
eflfort I had made, and has told me that he intends 
to see how it will look in print in the next issue 
of the Natal newspaper. At parting, he presented 
me with his Madeira armchair, which I hope I 
shall be able to take home intact, and keep as a 
memento of the pleasant days spent on board the 





Our first change of quarters took place on the 
13th, when the detachment marched out here 
early in the morning, and I followed in the after- 
noon. My move, which promised to be rather a 
scramble, after the manner of most moves made 
in connection with the regiment, ended in my 
coming out in such grand style as astonished my 
husband and those of his brother officers who 
witnessed my arrival from their camp on the top 
of one of the surrounding hills. 

I had spent the entire morning tramping 
about the streets — or rather wading ankle-deep 
through the sands — of Durban, in search of a 
conveyance to take me and my maid out to 

Westville, and was returning to mine inn (where 



they had previously informed me that they were 
at present " out " of such commodities as horses 
and carriages on hire) when I met the landlord^ 
who, upon seeing me, assumed an air of resent- 
ment, the cause of which I was quite unable to 
divine. He, however, lost no time in inform- 
ing me that he was at that moment having 
his horses put to in order to drive me to my 
destination in his own private carriage, and was 
deeply hurt at the want of confidence I had dis- 
played in engaging a carriage from a rival 
establishment. I could only plead, in extenuation 
of my fault, that so liberal an interpretation of 
the polite art of speeding the parting guest did 
not as yet obtain in the mother country. But I 
did not forget, before availing myself of this 
handsome oflfer, to inquire upon what terms it was 
made. A wave of the hand, and an urgent 
request for the counter-ordering of the obnoxious 
conveyance, was the only reply; but this was 
impossible, inasmuch as it was already at the door, 
and held its ground stoutly in the face of the 
opposition coach and team of fine horses that was 
being paraded up and down the street. 

I ended the dispute by despatching my maid 


and luggage in chariot No. 1, the proprietor of 
which, having come in person to drive me (in 
order to witness the mortification of mine host of 
the Royal Hotel), went oflF in a storm of reproaches 
at the "indignity" that' he said I had put upon 
him. "In consequence of information received," 
as they say, I declined to mount the box of the 
break until I had received a distinct assurance 
that there was to be nothing to pay for so much 
honour and glory (conduct which, if it had been 
imitated by some of the rest of our party, would 
probably have saved them an expense of about 
five pounds, to which, I believe, they were put 
after enjoying a similar privilege next day). 

The drive was most enjoyable, and we were 
taken at a capital pace over the ground by the 
team of well-matched spirited horses, whose 
handsome appearance and turn-out, contrasting as 
it did so forcibly with the other appointments 
of the establishment, afforded me considerable food 
for reflection as we bowled along, 

Durban is a cheerful, bright-looking town ; 
the streets are clean and wide — space being no 
object here — and the shops good, all necessary 
clothes and eatables being easily obtainable. But 


the situation is low, and the climate at this season 
considered unhealthy. All the better class of 
merchants and tradespeople (who constitute the 
aristocracy) have villas on the rising ground 
behind the town, in a beautiful suburb called 
" The Berea." 

It took us two hours to drive the nine miles to 
this place, the roads being nearly knee-deep in 
mud and sand, through which numbers of im- 
mensely heavy wagons, with their " spans " of 
fourteen and sixteen oxen, were slowly ploughing 
their way. 

The scenery all around was lovely. We 
passed several of those rocky ravines they call 
khloofs, with trees, and generally a stream of 
water at the bottom of them ; and 1 was on the 
point of asking to have the carriage stopped 
several times, that I might make a closer ac- 
quaintance with the multitudes of beautiful 
flowering shrubs and plants, amongst which the 
Kafirs were trotting about, looking, in their non- 
descript costumes, like some grotesque creatures 
in a pantomime. 

These are all Zulu Kafirs, and are a fine, 
well-made race of men. They are by no means 


bad looking, and many of them have pleasant, 
mild faces, and obliging manners. They are 
compelled to wear clothes in the towns, but the 
articles of dress and the manner of wearing 
them seem to be left mainly to their own 
taste and discretion. Something to swear by is 
evidently the point insisted on; and a Kafir 
may think himself well dressed if he can be 
accommodated, for instance, with a tall hat and a 
shirt, or an old mess-jacket, or perhaps a dress- 
coat, with the fringe which they wear round their 
bodies very long and knotted, appearing in con- 
tinuation. Sometimes it is their legs that are 
covered, sometimes their chests — all different, and 
all enough to make you die of laughing. As 
these worthies retire from the centres of civiliza- 
tion, the garments with which their persons are 
adorned are to be seen disappearing by degrees. 
Thus, within half a mile of the town, you pass a 
man carrying his coat ; another quarter of a mile, 
and he has disencumbered himself of his shirt 
and waistcoat (supposing him to be the proud 
possessor of such valuables) ; the remaining articles 
of his apparel follow in rapid succession, and a 


mile or so from town you fall in with parties of 
gentlemen, clad in the severe simplicity of native 
dress, and carrying their wardrobes at the end of 
their knobkerries. 



Spring Qromgey Wesiville, 

February 25. 

A FORTNIGHT to-day since we landed in this 
country! Ugh! this horrid heat and wet! 
Everything that you touch warm and sticky, 
your clothes all getting mildewed, and you 
yourself feeling as if you were growing all 
over with mould ! Westville is a kind of scat- 
tered village amongst the hills; there are no 
shops and no hotels, but a few poor houses, into 
which the owners as a personal favour (everything 
is a favour out here) and for a substantial 
remuneration, occasionally receive lodgers from 
Durban, who are ordered to the country for 
change of air. 

The lodgings we occupy are in the house of 
a settler, who, having been his own architect, 
oarpentor, etc., has built himself a wooden house, 



sometliing after the fashion of Noah's ark. We 
had expected to have been almost as tightly 
packed as was the family of the patriarch in that 
famous argosy ; for four small rooms only were to 

have sufficed for ourselves, one of G 's brother 

officers, his wife, and her maid, six souls in all ! 
But a sudden order prevented them from joining 
us ; so we spread ourselves over the whole quarters, 
and found them none too large, even for our 
diminished party. As it is, the house is crammed 
with children, who mil overflow into our rooms, 
in spite of all the efforts of our landlady and 
the black boy-nurse to keep them confined to 

Our hostess is a lady of an independent 
turn of mind, and cherishes an opinion — not 
uncommon, I fear, amongst colonists — that she 
is being looked down upon and sneered at by 
intruders from the old country. No amount of 
the most cringing servility on my part can eradi- 
cate this painful idea on hers. Except the re- 
nowned Mrs. Raddle, I know of no one either 
in fact or fiction so utterly implacable. Even the 
abject attempts I have made at establishing more 
friendly relations, have only added hypocrisy to 


my other vices in the eyes of this estimable 
lady Soldiers — that is to say, Imperial troops — 
are looked upon by the good people about here 
with a certain amount of coolness. What their 
views may be if any crisis should arise for 
their services to be called into requisition, it is 
impossible to say; but at present, as my land- 
lady tells me, with that playful humour which 
I have learnt to distrust, " We can't see what 
you have come for, unless it is to make fun of 
all our poor colonial, old-fashioned ways." It is 
in vain that I have assured her that my nature 
is so little adapted for fun, that no amount of 
cultivation would even enable me to distinguish 
the point of the broadest joke that was ever made. 
To be disbelieved is, too frequently, the lot of 
the ingenuous, and I console myself with the 
reflection that it has been the fate of greater 
travellers before. Our appetites, too, are a source 
of the greatest woe to this excellent woman, 
and of so much remorse and shame to me per- 
sonally, that I constantly hope mine, at any 
rate, will succumb to the force of these emotions. 
I feel convinced that the poor lady's rueful face, 
when she removes an empty dish from the table^ 


and glances with mute but eloquent reproach at 
us, is photographed upon my brain. I shall be 
able to recall it to my dying day. At first I 
mistook the cause of her anguish, and by way 
of encouragement said — 

" No fear that we shall not be quite ready 
for our dinner, Mrs. " 

"You always are," she replied, to my un- 
speakable amazement. " My word, if I'd known. 
what appetites you and your husband have, I'd 
have put an extra sovereign on the board, I 
believe ! " 

This was said as a joke, but it made me so 
wretched that I resorted to the expedient of 
getting cold " baked meats " in Durban, and keep- 
ing them in a cupboard, so that we might take 
off the edge of our appetites by a slice of plum- 
cake, or a penny bun, eaten shortly before dinner. 

But this device has failed, inasmuch as Mrs. 

has discovered our stores, and regulates our 
supply on a sliding scale, corresponding to the 
amount of the provisions we had, as we believed, 
secreted. Were it not for these domestic difficul- 
ties, and one or two other crumpled rose leaves, 
our position here would be enjoyable enough. 


The house is situated on high ground, and the 
scenery all round is lovely. We have a fine view 
from our verandah over the hilly and richly 
wooded country to Durban, six miles off, and can 
easily distinguish the lighthouse on the point, and 
the ships lying at anchor in the bay. From the 
garden we can see the mouth of the Umgeni river 
to the north of Durban, and indeed there is a 
perfect panorama of beautiful country, with our 
little camp perched on the top of a hill opposite 
our drawing-room window. Splendid flowers, 
many of them reared in stoves at home, grow wild 
here in the fields about our house. Phloxes, 
purple, red, and white (the low sorts) here take 
the place of daisies. About Durban they are still 
more plentifal, and the air there is perfumed by 
the scent of a weed which opens its small orange 
and crimson and white blossoms as soon as the 
sun has set. Cape jasmines, looking like large 
hollies, grow in the bush, their white starlike 
flowers tipping their dark glossy branches, and the 
large blue convolvulus hangs in festoons from 
the trees. The houses here are overshadowed 
by the bouganvillier, which grows with a 
luxuriance that those who have only seen the 


stunted specimens of it in greenhouses at home 
can never even dream of. Pineapples — ^we can buy 
them for threepence apiece — grow in the gardens 
in little stiff rows like raspberries (which do not 
flourish in this damp climate), and outside our 
house is a plantation of bananas in all the pride ot 
their massive dark-brown flowers and their insipid 
cotton woolly fruit. 

The woods are inhabited by monkeys, and by 
some very disagreeable snakes, and are also, 
according to the soldiers — who persist in con- 
sidering Natal a sort of unexplored, savage 
country — the haunt of dangerous wild beasts. 
Many and exciting are the adventures which these 
worthies, by their own accounts, have in the pur- 
suit of big game, the most notable being the 
single combat with and defeat of a furious wild pig, 

of which Gr 's colour-sergeant was the hero. 

So perfectly unacquainted, we were told, was this 
terrific animal with the human face divine, that 
it suffered him to approach quite close without 
manifesting any signs of displeasure or alarm. 
We complimented him on his performance, but 
were not without certain misgivings, which were 
fulfilled when the owner of the beast came to the 


camp next day, to demand satisfaction for injuries 
done to a valuable sow who was taking her walks 
abroad, and the delicate state of whose health 
rendered the attack made upon her doubly 
dangerous. Since the assessment of damages for 
the shock done to the nervous system of cochon 
mere, the illusion with regard to the bush abound- 
ing in big game has been rather dispelled. 

There is no illusion, however, about the size, 
number, and uncanny looks of the insects that 
infest these parts. I am not one of those ladies 
who faint at the sight of a rat or a spider, but I 
confess to an unconquerable dread of a hornet 
(they are here very long and black, and joined 
together in the middle with a sort of pipe about 
the thickness of a horse-hair), or a wasp, or any- 
thing that stings. As to the spiders, description 
and comparison are not my forte, and when I say 
that they are of the Skye terrier " persuasion," I 
feel that I convey no idea at all of their extraordi- 
nary size and hairiness. One of these gentlemen, 
or rather ladies — for the husband, more diminutive 
and retiring, is sitting in a comer, looking on — is 
constructing a sort of aerial maze in the shrubbery 
outside our garden. She is wearing a costume of 


red and grey, extensively trimmed with fiir about 
the legs and arms. Joking apart, her body is the 
size of an acorn, and the crablike legs and claws 
in proportion to such ample dimensions. The 
pouch wherein the material for making the web is 
kept, and the spinners, are to be plainly seen, as 
is also the small pair of pincers for twisting and 
breaking the thread. It is like looking at some 
creature in a microscope. 

With the evenings, a sort of purgatory begins 
for me. In this stifling heat we are, of course, 
obliged to sit with windows and doors wide open, 
and as soon as the lamp is lighted swarms of 
winged creatures come booming in and troop in 
endless procession round the light. The van is 
generally led by our friend the good old English 
horse-fly. There never is any rear, but all the 
varieties of moth and dragon-fly follow in their 
order ; with great striped red-and-yellow grass- 
hoppers, that give a click and suddenly light 
upon your face with their sticky legs ; and cock- 
chafers, the object of whose life seems to be to 
entangle themselves in your hair. I never can sit 
still under this dreadful infliction, and though a 
course of conjugal reprimands has trained me to 


endure this visitation without startling my hus- 
band by a constant series of yells, the awful state 
of heat and terror into which I am thrown when 
a great beetle cannons up against my nose, or a 
cricket lights upon the table and begins making 
at me and doubling up its legs, has always com- 
pletely prostrated me by the arrival of bed-time, 
when we are lulled to sleep by the constant hiss of 
the cicada, and the ceaseless chant " I-z-z-e-e ye ! 
I-z-z-e-e-e ye ! " of the musquitoes. 




March 12. 

We were not, after all, destined to remain long in 
our country house. The detachment of troops 
stationed at Durban having been ordered up 
country, my husband, in charge of a few men, 
was sent to relievo it, and on the 2nd we returned, 
and took up our quarters at the Belgrave Hotel. 

When it came to the point, I really believe 
our late hostess was sorry to take leave of us. 
" Good-bye," said she, at parting. " I never 
thought to have liked you so much as I do, that's 
a fact ; but " — with a doubtful smile — " you are 
always poking your fun at me, you know;" and of 
this delusion I was obliged to leave her possessed, 
after all. 

Everything in the Belgrave was bright and 


clean. Our room opened into the verandah; we 
liad only to step across a little flower-bed to get 
to the dining-room. This, with the kitchen, was 
in a little cottage by itself, and was a cool, shady 
room, with a couple of comfortable punkahs, pulled 
by the small coolie boy Vera, who brought us our 
early cup of coffee, and was at every one's beck 
and call from " early dawn till dewy eve." 

The practice of having one's slumbers broken 
in upon by a turbaned coolie or Kafir, with his 
woolly head, is rather startling at first to one's 
insular prejudices ; but one soon gets even to look 
forward to it, and nothing could be more offen- 
sively impolite than to decline these well-meant 

Had it not been for the musquitoes, which at 
Durban seem to have entered into a compact to 
flay you alive, we should have been fairly con- 
tented to have spent there the six months which 
we had been told we might expect to stay. 

It was extremely pleasant, after the burden of 

the day was over, to sit in the verandah, inhaling 

the spicy scents of the flowers (many of which do 

not open here till after sundown), and watching 

the graceful movements of Vera and his brethren 



08 they glided noiselessly about in their crimson- 
(ind-orango turbans and loose flowing robes. 

Tlieso worthies, together with all the rest of 
the coloured folks, are rung to quarters in all the 
iurgo towns at nine o'clock ; and it used to be 
veiy good fun to see them rushing helter-skelter 
tliroiigli the streets to reach their homes before 
tlio bell had stopped ringing, pursued by sundry 
HUi>eruaturally active native policemen. 

Kinbarrassing mistakes are sometimes per- 
petrated by these zealots, and a short time ago 
tlioy captured a discreet Parsee gentleman, a 
inerclijint of consideration, and were only pre- 
vented by tlio exertions of his friends from 
keeping him in custody till five o'clock next 

Soldiers' orders are, unluckily, not of the nature 
of the laws of the Modes and Persians. We had 
liardly got to Durban before some potentate made 
a decree reversing that which had sent us thither, 
and, exactly a week after our return, we took up 
our carriages and began our long march to the 

Accustomed as we are to these sudden changes, 
I experienced very little surprise, and only re- 


gretted that we had expended so much good 
British shoe-leather (which, in this country, is 
a rare and costly article) in our house-hunting 

Apart from this serious consideration, there 
was no reason to regret our altered plans. 
The climate of Durban was unhealthy; the air 
reeked with abominable smells and the fevers 
which they generated ; and all the necessaries of 
life were so monstrously dear — eggs, for instance, 
sometimes costing as much as 3s. 6d. per dozen ! — 
that it was quite a marvel how people managed to 
get on at all. 

Utrecht, some place about ten miles beyond 
the Buflfalo, which is the boundary of the Trans- 
vaal, is, we are told, our ultimate destination. 
The rest of the detachment have been some days 
on their way already. We expect to come up 
with them to-morrow at Maritzburg, as well as 
the other ladies, who have been sent on from 
Westville in the omnibus. On hearing where we 
were to go, my husband made up his mind to 
leave me behind at Maritzburg, as we were told 
by everybody that Utrecht was nothing but a 
wretched Dutch village, with no places for us to 


live in, and that only two European ladies had 
ever gone there. It was, therefore, with a heavy- 
heart that I trudged with him, through the hot 
sand of Durban, to buy the few things that were 
required to make him comfortable in his life under 

I bore with tolerable fortitude the trial of set- 
ting him up in buttons (which somebody else was 
to sew on, as sewing is not one of my strongest 
points) ; but when it came to the purchase of a 
charming little Etna stove, with saucepans in 
which to cook delightful alfresco dinners, and a 
kettle wherewith to furnish forth a series of gipsy 
teas, my affliction became insupportable, and I 
gave my husband no peace until I had persuaded 
him to consent to buy me a horse, that I might go 
with him and have a taste of tent life, at any rate 
as far as Maritzburg. 

My husband's consent, however, was only half 
the battle, and that the least important half by far ; 
for on the morning of the day on which he was 
to begin his march, I received a note, in which 
he said that he was unexpectedly detained at 
the barracks, and that unless I felt up to going 
into the market and buying the horse myself, 
I should have to be left behind after all. 


Of course, I felt up to it. In the face of such 
a contingency, I would as soon have set out to 
buy a balloon as a horse — and, in fact, am about 
as competent a judge of the good points of the 
one as the other. Accordingly to the horse 
auction I went, and should probably have got 
into sad difficulties if it had not been for the 
extreme kindness of some of the gentlemen stay- 
ing in the hotel, who volunteered to help me in 
making so important a purchase ; and, to cut the 
matter short, I found myself, by the afternoon, the 
possessor of a dark-brown mare, not bad looking, 
sound in wind and limb, together with a saddle 
and bridle and all other equipage appertaining. 

The bargain was not completed till some time 
after my husband had been compelled to march 
his party out; but as I had taken the mare, or 
rather she had taken me, for a pretty successful 
trial trip down the street, I felt no uneasiness at 
being left to come out alone to the camp in the 
cool of the evening. 

Oh, that ride ! It is the one recollection con- 
nected with South Africa that will recur to me 
with laughter till my dying day. I may as well 
say at once that, though I am accustomed to 


driving, I know about as much of riding as of 
navigating a ship, but my dignity would not suffer 
this to appear; so I scrambled into the saddle 
with any amount of assurance, and as (I suppose 
from looking at other people) I found I was able 
to assume a fairly square seat, I produced upon 
the party assembled to see me off a far better 
impression of my skill than I either pretended to 
or deserved. 

The mare, however, was not to be taken in. 
Before we had gone fifty yards from the door, 
the intelligent creature set off at a smart trot, 
evincing a desire to get over the ground with 
which I fully sympathized. The trot, however, 
quickened into a canter, which became faster and 
faster; and by the time we had got into the 
principal street of Durban, we were dashing along 
in fine imitation of the great Gilpin, avoiding 
collision with the carriages and great ox-waggQns 
by what appeared to be either a miracle, or some 
extraordinary talent for judging distances on the 
part of the mare. It was not that I would not 
have stopped if I could. I twisted the xwyip 
round my arm, round the pommfl]^ kt^ 
thought, impelled by phaeton esqperi 


ing to get them round my leg, and pulled with 
all my might, first this way, then that, then 
all together. But I did not know then, what I 
now hear to be a notorious fact, namely, that a 
Cape horse has, as a rule, a mouth like the trunk 
of a tree, and that, once set going, nothing short 
of a dead wall ahead, or his own disinclination to 
go on, will stop him. It was the latter which 
brought the mare to a standstill at last, on the 
pavement, amongst a crowd of people. A friend 
who had witnessed crur struggles now came up, 
and implored me, as I valued my life, not to 
attempt to go any further. 

" I must go on," I said, " to Maritzburg. In- 
deed, I cannot stop." Which was true enough, 
as, some one having led the mare into the road 
and pointed her head in the required direction, 
we were oflf again, and only stopped when we 
reached the level crossing, of which the mare 
insisted on making a carefiil examination before 
taking me any further. Being now out of the 
town, I thought it was safe to give vent to the 
ixidigiiatioii I had been smothering all the way ; 
amA nm Imp IimiI. fieemed to be the only part 

I fell upon her, and 


belaboured her soundly about the ears, which she 
took in such very bad part that she made a rush 
for a ditch full of nettles, landed safely on the 
other side in about ten inches of sand, and there 
remained with her head towards the bush, and 
nothing that I could do would bring it round. 

I know of no reason why I should not have 
been there still, if it had not been that a gentle- 
man, in passing, was struck with my forlorn 
situation, and offered to escort me a few miles 
on the way to Eoy Koppas, where our camp was 
to be pitched. I need not say that I gladly 
availed myself of his kindness, and the rest of 
the journey was made in comparative comfort, 
with the exception of the last two or three miles, 
when I had to go on alone and give battle to the 
mare in the dark. 




March 12. 

On the whole, my first night in a tent could 
not be said to realize all that my fancy had 
painted it. There were no evolutions to be gone 
through with the Etna stove and gipsy kettle, 
such as I had pictured ; so far the reverse, in- 
deed, that there was this unexpected novelty 
added to all my other experiences, that for 
the first time in my life I went supperless to 

My husband did not arrive until I had sat 
for nearly an hour watching the fireflies, and 
listening to those eternal crickets, on a bench 
outside the little canteen, as they call public- 
houses out here, where he had told me to wait. 
He was beyond measure relieved to find me in 
such good preservation, and lost no time in 


getting our tent pitched on some rising ground, 
to which we may be said to hive waded in 
due course, for the dew had fallen so heavily 
that we felt as if we were walking through a 
river. I was wet up to the waist by the time 
we reached the tent — which our servant had tried 
to make more comfortable, by tearing up the long 
grass with his hands — and lost no time in taking 
off my dripping habit, and creeping into my 
blanket-bag for the night. This is not an easy 
matter, unless one is accustomed to it ; and I 
required a good deal of help, my husband stowing 
me in, and shaking me down, like a flitch of 
bacon or a ham, and finally depositing me on my 
little White's bed, while he made a bed for him- 
self with the rugs and great coats on the ground. 
The mare was tethered to a peg just outside our 
door, and the sound of her diligent munching 
mingled with the flapping of the tent and the 
jingling of the buckles as we fell asleep. In the 
middle of the night I awoke. A great moon was 
staring into the tent ; the munching had ceased — 
the mare had gone ! 

Though my husband scrambled into a few 
clothes, took a header into the sea of fog and 


mist outside, and searched in every direction, not 
a trace of her was to be found. 

At the discovery of this climax to my diffi- 
culties, I could not resist a hearty fit of laughter, 
though the predicament was more than ludicrous, 
seeing that it was Sunday morning, with no up- 
country omnibus running, and that there was 
no possible house for me to put up at, within 
several miles. 

The rest of the night was spent by G in 

a series of fruitless excursions, and endeavouring, 
between each round, to bring me to a sense of 
the lamentable wilfuhiess that had tempted me 
to undertake such an expedition. 

Daylight, however, relieved our anxiety by 
discovering our " encumbrance " (for such we had 
really begun to consider her) in the vicinity of 
the baggage-waggon, where she had sought the 
companionship of the mules. 

A hasty cliota hazari was eaten, consisting 
mainly of tinned lobster and tea with a ** dollop " 
of condensed milk in it — which I was grieved to 
find did not seem a bit more appetizing than such 
viands are at home — after which, I was hoisted 
on to the back of the encumbrance, and con- 


ducted her without further misadventure to the 
stable of the hotel at Pinetown. 

This is now the third day of our journey, 
but the mare generously laid down her arms after 
that protracted struggle on the first evening (in 
which she clearly had so much the best of it), and 
we have not had a moment's diflference of opinion 
since. There was a trifling misunderstanding 
this afternoon, when she, soothed no doubt by 
the regular tramp, tramp, of the party behind 
us, was about to compose herself for a nap in the 
soft, warm sand. The sudden doubling up of her 
fore legs apprized me of this intention, which I 
frustrated by tucking myself up into a ball, and 
rolling out of the saddle with an alacrity that 
astonished myself as well as every one else that 
beheld me. Two or three of the men rushed to 
pick up the pieces, the rest had enough to do 
keeping their countenances, which they all did, 
exerting an amount of politeness that I cannot 
but fear must have strained some of them dread- 


I am writing this in our tent, which is pitched 
just in front of the hotel. A heavy thunderstorm 
has come on, and the great drops of rain are 


rattling like peas upon the tent. The canvas is so 
dry, too, that we are enjoying a shower-bath in 
our clothes, and the eggs and bacon that are 
frying for one of our delightful (?) gipsy suppers, 
are being rapidly converted into soup. 

Our first idea had been to dine at the hotel, 
and on reaching it, almost speechless from heat, 
dust, and fatigue, we were shown into a sort of 
lean-to at the back, where a waiter, in his shirt- 
sleeves, was spreading a table with an exceedingly 
dirty table-cloth, and, so far as we could see 
during the intervals of the flies relieving guard 
over them, very untempting-looking viands. In 
a few moments a horn was heard outside, four 
dripping horses galloped into the yard, and we 
were requested to stand aside while the unhappy 
slaves of the post-cart gobbled their apology for a 

About five minutes of this scramble more than 
satisfied us — it is to be hoped it did the travellers 
themselves, for in very little more time they were 
hustled back to their uneasy seats, and as we 
regained the shelter of our tent, we beheld them 
bumping and jolting over the stones in the 


We feel that we have fairly earned our dinner 
and sleep, as it has been an uphill trudge the 
whole way, and the roads very sticky. Yesterday 
we crossed the Inchanga chain of hills ; the views 
all along were very fine — one range of hills suc- 
ceeding another, and every new turn in the road 
disclosed some deep ravine, clothed to the bottom 
with low scrub and ferns, while the jagged outline 
of the hills beyond was visible, above the fleecy 
clouds. The great want in the landscape of 
South Africa is that of trees and water. Trees 
are very few and far between, and when they do 
come, are poor, weedy things ; and the rivers, as 
a rule, are small and insignificant. 




March 14. 

Although we had heard so much of Maritzburg 
as a bright, cheerful little town, our first impres- 
sion was destined to be gloomy. 

We arrived in a downpour of rain, and the 
entrance to the town from the Durban road is 
beside a regular grove of weeping willows, which 
looked doubly sombre seen through the drenching 
rain, with not a breeze to stir the long branches 
that dipped into the river. 

The "city," as colonists proudly call it, 
seems a clean, pretty little town, with an air of 
smartness about it, as if it were still in its first 
youth and growing vigorously. The freshness 
of the buildings is not destroyed by coal smoke, 
or evil emanations from factories, as at home. I 


do not believe that there is a single tall chimney 
in Maritzbnrg. 

The streets are all at right angles to each 
other, running straight out into the open country, 
where they die, so to speak, of inanition, and 
end in nothing but the surrounding grassy plains. 
It is to be devoutly hoped that the anticipated 
Zulu war may not end in a general rising of the 
Natal Kafirs, as some people prophesy, for it is 
hard to imagine how such a place as Maritzburg 
could be put in a state of defence. The town 
is commanded by a fort (Fort Napier), situated 
on a hill on the up-country side ; but there is not 
the Biuallest attempt at anything in the way of 
a fortification, or even a wall of any kind for pro- 
tection. In the event of an attack, the inhabitants 
would have to " go into laager," as they call it ; 
that is to say, they would be driven into a regular 
p(jund, like a flock of sheep, there to make the 
]>OHt fight they could until a force could come to 
thoir relief. There would be nothing to prevent 
an enemy marching through the town from 
one end to the other. It would require a very 
largo body of troops to hold such a place as 
Maritzburg in its present undefended state. 


The suburbs, where the houses of the residents 
stand, each in its little garden with rose hedge 
in front, are very pretty. A stream of water, 
kept clear from all impurities by rigorous bye- 
laws, runs down nearly every street, and the 
residents, by paying a rate, have the privilege of 
drawing off the water for domestic purposes. It 
will be a grand day for the " city " when the 
railroad is opened to the coast. At present the 
shops are poorer, and goods of all sorts dearer, 
than at Dtirban. On a slight acquaintance, Maritz- 
burg appears about on a par with an average 
market town at home. 

Our visit is, however, not to be a prolonged 
one. To my delight, on arriving, I found the 
other ladies had all bought horses, and were not 
to be deterred from accompanying their husbands 
in their march up country. Wagons, we were 
told, would be provided (by private contract, of 
course), in which we could stow away our maids 
and our baggage, and also travel ourselves, when 
tired of riding. And the camp is to be moved 
to-night and pitched half-way up the Town Hill^ 
partly to avoid the malarious dews of the swampy 
ground where it is now standingj and partly to 


facilitate an early start up country to-morrow 

Although stiflf as a poker from the unaccustomed 
exercise, and racked with headache from Durban 
fever, which attacked me a couple of days ago, 
and which has made my chest and arms the colour 
of a boiled lobster, I had to spend the day in the 
broiling sun, shopping, and adding to our little 
store a double portion of provisions to be con- 
sumed upon the march. A chemist, whom I con- 
sulted in the course of my peregrinations, told me 
that this feverish attack, which is making me feel 
as if my eyes were being forced out of my head, 
is duo to the pestilential swamps and smells of 
Durban, where it was a complete epidemic when 
we left. It has seldom serious results, unless it is 
suppressed, and I lay great stress upon the feet 
that I have not time to be ill now. Biding all 
dfiy under a blazing sun, with a splitting headache 
and a face like a copper stewpan, may not be the 
most agreeable thing in the world, but I trust it 
will prove an heroic remedy, which, from the state 
of heat that it will induce, will soon drive all 
such disorders away. 

As at Durban, our lines have not fallen in a 


very pleasant place. By the advice of friends 
(who were cleariy in the position of the foxes that 
had lost their tails), we have taken up our quarters 
in what I charitably hope must be the very worst 
and most uncomfortable boarding-house in all 
Maritzburg. To borrow the lines quoted in a 
work of a well-known authoress : 

'* I do not wish to tell its name, 
Because it is so much to blame/ 

Besides, it is about to be for ever remembered 
amongst the things of the past; but, as a 
matter of present fact, it is the most wretched 
apology for an hotel I have as yet seen in this 
country — ^more like a mews for stabling horses than 
a place wherein to house decent Christians. The 
rooms (save the mark ! ) are, furniture excepted, 
loose boxes, partitioned oflF in a long thatched 
building, opening on to a passage out of doors — 
the said partitions stopping short of the roof by 
about a couple of feet. In consequence of this 
space we should, if we felt inclined, be able to join 
in the conversation of our neighbours — ^not only 
those next door, but the dwellers in every room in 
the row down to each end of it ; and as several of 


these have brought their families with them, there 
is every prospect of our passing the night in the 
utmost sociability, although the prospect of a few 
hours of uninterrupted sleep on the eve of a long 
march might on the whole be preferable. 

Dinner — or supper, as our evening meal is 
here called (in deference, I suppose, to the fact 
of this being an hotel, not a boarding-house)— con- 
sisted of several huge dishes of hashes and curry, 
rSchauffSsy doubtless, of an earlier repast, and 
was served in a room considerably overcrowded, 
whitjh the steam from the various hot and greasy 
dishes speedily converted into a regular vapour 
bath — a very unpleasant vapour too. These 
tempting viands were dispensed by the fair hands 
of the daughter of the house, assisted by her 
neighbours on either side — Maritzburg gentlemen, 
engaged in the pursuits of commerce, and evi- 
dently hahituis of the place. 

A huge, ugly Kafir, named Dick, clad in a sort 
of smock, the hue of which would almost lead one 
to suppose that his complexion was apt to " come 
off," managed the waiting without assistance. He 
was an artless and good-humoured child of nature, 
but laboured under the disadvantage of never 


being able to give his attention to the matter — that 
is to say, the dish — ^in hand ; and, as a consequence 
of this defect, a stream of gravy was not nnfre- 
quently to be seen flowing over the back and 
shoulders of a guest, while Dick's rolling eyes 
raked the plate of some visitor in a distant 
quarter of the room. When these little accidents 
occurred, Dick would give an elephantine start and 
hold up his hands, crying, " La, missis ! " with 
an air of amazement bordering on stupefaction, aS 
if for gravy to run out of a dish held upside down 
were a miracle altogether out of the reach of 
everyday experience. Upon such occasions, too, 
the young lady at the head of the table would 
make a feint of rising from her chair to box Dick's 
ears — a punishment which she explained was, in 
the eyes of a Kafir, considered a disgrace when 
inflicted by the hand of a woman. Acting on 
this suggestion, when my turn came to be 
besprinkled with the fat of the land, I called Dick 
to a sense of his inadvertence by as smart a rap 
as I was able to bestow upon him in the hurry 
of the moment. His surprise was, I believe, 
genuine, as, starting back, he opened his great 
saucer eyes to their widest, and gave vent to a 


prolonged " Oh-oo-oo-o ! " ending in a whistle of 
amazement; and his approaches during the rest 
of the meal were made with ostentatious caution, 
as if I were a sort of toy that might explode at 
any moment in a manner that would be annoying 
if it were not so insignificant. 

The conversation of colonists I have hitherto 
found to be more distinguished by candour than 
variety of topics, as it always turns, when we are 
in the way, upon the presence of the Imperial 
troops in this country. Considering that wo did 
not come here for our own pleasure, it is a little 
trying to be asked, in every place we come to, what 
we came for, and who wanted us ? But I dare say 
we shall quite enjoy it in time as well as the 
unmistakably sour looks which accompany the 
query. We have already become insensible to 
the hints, generally expressed, as to how the New 
Zealanders were unable to settle their differences 
with the natives until the Imperial troops had 
been withdrawn and the farmers themselves called 
out. In fact, the "young people" out here are 
evidently dying to show how cleverly they can 
run alone, and ready to resent any attempt on the 
part of the " old folks at home " to come to their 


assistance. Should the moment ever arrive when 
they may not only be glad of, but ready to cry 
for, help, I cannot but think it will teach them 
a very wholesome lesson, even though some proud 
stomachs should have to digest a few lumps of 
humble pie in learning it. 



Camp, Weston^ 

March 18. 

Wb arrived at the end of our day's march at half- 
past one, four or five hours earlier than usual, and 
it is a great treat having a few hours' daylight 
after getting into camp, to have the dust hrushed 
out of our clothes, and the contents of our boxes 
spread in the sun to air. The neighbourhood of 
my tent, at this moment, resembles a rag-shop, 
from the dresses of all colours and materials that 
are drying after the damps and mildews of Dur- 
ban. A similar state of affairs obtains in other 
quarters of the camp ; and, as privacy is impos- 
sible under the circumstances, we make up for it 
by affecting not to observe each other's move- 
ments. It answers nearly as well when you are 
used to it ; there is a great deal in habit and 
making believe, after all ! 


I was right in my anticipations of the good 
effects of hard exercise and roughing it on the 
Durban fever. Our exit from Maritzburg was 
made, so far at least as I was concerned, with no 
further misadventure than my mare, now called 
" Kafir," shying into a team of oxen, and all but 
transferring me on to the back of one of the 
bullocks, (The unimaginable toughness of African 
beef has surprised me less since I have found, 
from painful experience, how hard the sleek, 
smooth person of an ox can be.) 

Whether it was the hot climb up the tre- 
mendously steep Town Hill out of Maritzburg, or 
the cold night spent in the rain in a swamp on 
the top of it, or whether it was the perfect fever 
of nervousness with which I set to work to pre- 
pare my first stew for supper, and which caused 
yery beads of agony to ornament my brow, that 
wrought the cure, I know not; but it is a fact 
that I got up next morning with all traces of 
illness vanished, and ready to enjoy an early ride 
and breakfast at the hotel at Howick. 

I may congratulate myself on not having left, 
at any rate, part of my husband behind at that 
place, seeing that he went to bathe in the Um- 


geni river immediately upon arriving, and was 
told by a native on coming out that alligators are 
occasionally to be met with in those waters. 

Howick is a pretty, English-looking village, 
and boasts of two comfortable hotels. It is a 
kind of Rosherville to Maritzburg, where the 
" cits " and their families go to spend " a happy 
day." These expeditions generally take place on 
Sunday ; and, from observation made during our 
stay at Pinetown — ^which serves the same purpose 
for Durban that Howick does for Maritzburg — ^it 
appears that the performance of sacred music is 
one of the chief features of the entertainment. 
Hymns are sung, in which the visitors, however 
strange one to another, join as a matter of course, 
and as far as one can judge, the general tone of 
religious feeling in the colony seems to be 
evangelical. The school of thought prevails of 
which the Family Herald is one of the chief 

But, besides this, there are more mimdane 
attractions for the pleasure-seeker at Howick. 
The far-famed Umgeni Falls are only about three 
hundred yards from the principal hotel, and are 
worth coming any distance to see. One has no 


idea that any waterfall is near till one comes 
suddenly upon it. The torrent falls over two 
hundred and fifty feet sheer, and we were very 
fortunate in finding plenty of water, owing to the 
late rains. We stood on the very edge of the 
precipice and gazed a long time at this splendid 
sight. The stream being a good deal harrowed 
at the edge of the fall, adds to the effect of the 
height. The steam and mist came up from the 
basin of the fall in dense clouds, so that one could 
not see the bottom. The point at which we stood 
went straight down to the river below, and one 
false step would have sent us flying. I heard the 
best view was to be got by scrambling down to 
the river-bed, but as this entailed a considerable 
detour, and a good deal of fatigue, I contented 
myself with the view from the top. We marched 
on in the afternoon, and had a steep climb up the 
Umgeni Heights, at the top of which we en- 
camped. A driving mist had set in, making 
camp life rather unpleasant ; but we soon had our 
tents pitched, our stove burning, and our ration- 
meat stewing, and we cared little for the storm 

People at home would be amazed if they saw 


tlie roads out here. They are simply awful ; not 
roads at all, in the home acceptation of the word, 
but simply tracks worn by the passage of the 
heavy wagons up and down country. Every 
here and there the unwary traveller is in danger 
of being swallowed up in a huge hole, about four 
feet deep and full of mud, out of which no 
power on earth short of a steam-crane could get 
one of these cumbersome wagons. Not. unfre- 
quently one passes skeletons of oxen which have 
lain down to die on the road from one of the 
many mysterious diseases which have hitherto 
baffled the skill of the colonial farmers; and 
sometimes, too, we come across a deserted wagon, 
which has broken down upon the road, and is 
waiting, shrouded in its tarpaulin covering, for 
the conductor to return and dig out. The primi- 
tive state of the roads no longer surprises any of 
us since passing a party of Kafirs who were 
ostensibly engaged in mending them. We par- 
ticularly observed their method, which was as 
follows ; — 

From a group of natives, apparently engaged 
in forming a plan of the operations, and who may, 
perhaps, be considered to constitute a sort of staff 


of the working party, a Kafir would be seen to 
detach himself, and, going up to a heap of stones 
by the wayside, would stand contemplating them, 
apparently lost in thought for several moments. 
After what must have been long and anxious 
deliberation, he would select what generally 
appeared to us to be tlie most unpromising stone 
of the lot, and commence rolling it, with infinite 
caution, towards its ultimate destination in one of 
the great holes in the road. Two or three fellow- 
workmen would hurry to assist Hm in the per- 
formance of this laborious duty, and after a con- 
siderable time had been consumed in turning the 
stone about and settling which end was to go in 
foremost, it would be at last fixed, as it were, in its 
socket, amidst much " Oh-ing ! " and " Ah-ing ! " 
both from the workers themselves and those who 
were engaged in doing the looking on» So far so 
good. The next proceeding would be for the 
energetic Kafir who had initiated the movement to 
arrange his scanty attite so as to form a sort of 
cushion, and to sit down On the 6dge of the stone, 
which projected a long way out of the hole, land 
take snufi*, in which h6 was of doufse joined by all 
the rest of the party — for Kafirs always snuflF in 


company, and knock off work about once in every 
quarter of an hour for this operation, which is 
always performed sitting down. (Of course, for 
the larger holes, for which several stones were 
required, this process had to be repeated several 
times.) The next step is to fit the stone to the 
shape of the hole, which is done by chipping 
pieces off it with a hammer, each blow being the 
result of deliberate judgment and much consulta- 
tion. If, in spite of these efforts, the stone does 
not seem likely to fit after all, it is dug out, rolled 
away, replaced by another, and the whole process 
is gone through over again. It would, indeed, go 
hard with these diligent creatures if, considering 
their exertions in snufl^g, smoking, and singing, 
they have not repaired at least one hole at the 
close of the day's work. 

The inns along the road are very clean and 
comfortable, but very expensive, especially as re- 
gards "fluids." A bottle of beer, for example, costs 
2^. 6c?. — a price which rather startles one when one 
considers how well within everybody's reach Bass 
is at home. Wages, too, are enormous. The pro- 
prietor of the hotel at Howick told me that he 
paid his carpenters 15^. a day^ and the man who 


was engaged in painting the house was receiving 
8^, per diem and board and lodging ! 

There is the usual extensive view from here 
over the never-ending, rolling plains, to which, 
monotonous as they really are, the changing lights 
and shadows give an infinite variety. I am sitting 
outside our tent, enjoying the fine air, arid the 
smell of our neighbour's dinner, which is frying 
on the grass behind his tent close by. We are 
all resting, some outside, some within, our tents ; 
the gentlemen in divers descriptions of toilettes 
that can only be described as a trifle immature. 
Our horses are wandering about with their legs 
hobbled, getting their suppers, and the servants 
are busy arranging the tents, and preparing to 
cook our dinners. 

I often wonder what we should think of such 
meals at home, and whether any amoimt of hard 
exercise there would enable us to digest them. As, 
for instance, our dinner of last night, when we 
had a poimd of salt pork, and boiled it ourselves 
(very excellent it was, too), and finished up with 
some cheese, which I stewed scientifically with 
beer and butter in the frying-pan. Except to-day, 
we have only got into camp just before dusk, or 


in the dark, twice in the pouring rain, and have 
only had time to light our little " Eclipse " stove 
(a most handy and cheap contrivance, exactly 
adapted for camp life), cook our dinner, help to 
wash our saucepans, plates, and knives, and tumble 
into bed, when we sleep with a right good will, 
that is not to be thwarted by the rain pouring 
down, or dew rising, or any trifles of that de- 



March 19, 

Estcovrt — 

The sort of place they call a town out here, con- 
sisting of an hotel, a couple of stores or so, and a 
few farms and scattered houses. I suspect the 
opinions which travellers form of these " towns '* 
are considerably modified by the fact whether 
they are journeying to or from the wilderness — 
i.e. up country or down. 

After all, marching (on horseback !) is not at 
all disagreeable, and after the first day one gets 
quite accustomed to all the discomforts of camp 
life. The early rising goes most against the 
grain, but woe betide the sluggard who should 
turn in his bed for an additional forty winks after 
reveille has sounded ! In about a quarter of an 
hour more they sound the " dress ; " down goes 



the tent, and tlie tenant thereof, snrroTinded by 
a little archipelago of boxes, is disclosed to the 
admiring gaze of " Tommy Atkins," however 
little he or she may be in a condition to face it 
with equanimity. 

ReveilU goes at four, and our first thought is 
to jump up, and put a match to our stove, and 
make a cup of tea to have with a slice of bread 
and jam (spread over-night), before going out into 
the cold. To open our eyes is the next thing, 
and to get the sleep out of them, which we do 
with the aid of a thimbleful of water in a tin 
basin, in which grasshoppers, beetles, and other 
obscene creatures have committed suicide in gangs 
during the night. After struggling out of the 
various bags, cloaks, caps, hosen, and hoods, in 
which we spend the night, into our less com- 
plicated day apparel, a search is instituted after 
the missing soap, fork, or spoon, which is in- 
variably found at night at the bottom of the box 
of eatables, or rolled up in one of the beds ; and 
then I go outside and sit on a camp-stool while 
the men strike the tent. 

This done, I get on my horse and pick my 
way cautiously out of the camp, as it is pitch 


dark then except for the stars, and the holes in 
the grass (" veldt," as they call it here) are very 
dangerous. While I am doing this, I am joined 
by the other ladies, and we make our way to 
the road behind one of the big wagons (of which 
we have thirteen), as we are afraid of losing our 
way in the gloom. As day breaks — and oh, 
how chilly it is ! — we gradually draw on, and 
generally contrive to pass all the wagons, and 
get ahead of the column by the time they come 
to the first halt. 

The roads are now in a terrible state of mud, 
and so slippery that it would be almost as safe 
riding upon ice. Our horses slid along to-day 
at every step, though we went at a foot-pace. 
Kajir^ being shod, was the worst of the lot, 
slipping and sliding about, and finally dis- 
tinguishing herself by falling down with me 
between two wagons. But just as I was sup- 
posing, from the yells of the dismayed drivers, 
that I was on the point of being lifted out of 
the saddle by a pair of horns, she got up again 
most cleverly, and no one thinks anything of such 
trifles as a tumble or two here. Broken knees are 
not of the consequence that they are at home, or 


broken necks either, one would suppose from the 
reckless fashion in which the post-carts tear up 
and down the hills, and the accidents which are 
constantly occurring to the confiding passengers. 

The ladies ride on ahead till we come to one 
of the roadside inns, where we stop for break- 
fast and a few hours' rest. But, early as we 
aro, wo have been preceded by an officer in the 
oonuuissariat, who, I imagine, can never go to bed 
at all, from the early hour at which he gallops 
on to choose the camping-grounds, order the 
rations, and get everything ready for the dinners, 
i>t(\, at tlu> halts. 

|{y-aiul-l)y we are caught up by the column, 
{\\n\ tluMi we all sit down to breakfast, and a very 
NtHMahlo, jolly meal it is. The way in which 
c'lu»|)s, jam, hot rolls, tea, and coffee disappear, 
nhowH that Natal air has not hitherto disagreed 
luuch with any of us. 

A ft IT that we either have four or five hours' 
vi^Nt, ()!• i^o on in the course of an hour and get 
^^a^ly into camp, which we like much better. 

A {^'iiNit deal of this part of the business is 
HntlK'il by the bullock-drivers, who virtually have 
thi^ control of our movements in their hands. 


When much rain has fallen, the roads become im- 
passable, and at the best of times the oxen cannot 
travel more than eight miles at a stretch. They 
are then " out-spanned," and turned loose to feed ; 
and no importunities will induce the drivers to 
abate a minute of their wonted hours of rest. 
We have a man riding with us, the master of the 
wagons, whose word is law ; and I heard a 
rumoirr that it had been proposed to sound reveille 
at two in the morning instead of four, but that 
the wagon-master had decidedly refused to allow 
his oxen to travel except just before daybreak. 
So that we owe to him the boon of a couple of 
hours' additional sleep ; and what a boon that is, 
only those who have to take hard exercise for 
hours under a burning sun are able properly to 

The road winds in interminable curves over 
the hills, and as there is but one we cannot very 
easily miss it. To-morrow's march is always the 
last thing visible before we turn in for the night, 
and, if we could raise a telescope amongst us, I 
have no doubt the march of several successive 
days could be seen chalked out on the blue hills 


The scenery is lovely ; range after range of 
hills seen in the early morning through their soft, 
misty veils, clothed to the summit with grass, 
with spans of oxen feeding, or flocks of vultures 
holding a noisy parliament over the body of some 
unfortunate bullock that has had to be unhar- 
nessed and left to die upon the road. 

We generally give the soldiers an hour's start 
in the afternoons, so as to get into camp after 
they have pitched the tents and got a little 
settled. The next thing is to change our dress 
and cook the dinner, which, from the difficulties 
we have to contend with — arising from our own 
inexperience, the genteel ignorance of our ladies*- 
maids, the difficult tempers of our soldier ser- 
vants, and, lastly and principally, the preter- 
natural resistance of African meat to all ordinary 
culinary processes — may be regarded as a feat 
which it is simply marvellous to see performed 
without failure so many days in succession. 

With regard to the beef, which I firmly be- 
lieve must once have formed part of the carcase 
of an old " trek " ox, no small amount of force, as 
well as skill, has to be exerted in preparing it 
for the table. The vigorous arm of our soldier 


servant has to be employed in pounding our beef- 


steaks for a considerable time with an iron 
hammer, after which process it only resists the 
teeth like india-rubber ; without it, we should 
not be able to get them into it at all. And here- 
be it noted, that in the services of the above- 
mentioned soldier, whom I will here call X ,. 

we are to consider ourselves in the enjoyment ot 
a blessing far above that possessed by any of our 

friends in the like position, seeing that X 

belongs more to that, order of domestics known 
in civilian life as the family piece, and is by no 
means to be confounded with the ordinary run of 
soldier servants. I trust I am not xmgrateful for 
so signal a piece of luck ; but it cannot be denied 

that X 's temper is of the kind that the French 

call difficile J especially when he is suffering from 
the paroxysms of acute lumbago, which com- 
plaint has persecuted him ever since he landed 
in this country. This is all the more unfortunate 

from the fact that X is present in Africa 

solely by his own voluntary act and deed,, 
prompted, as he impresses upon everybody, by 
purely disinterested motives, and a desire to take 
care of his master and me. Of course^ when you 


cannot take care of yourself, the next best thing is 
to have some one to do it for you ; but there are 
times, particularly dinner-times, when I am so 

ungrateful as almost to wish ^but I never allow 

myself to get any further than almost ! 

Our little preparations for dinner are generally 
the subject of long and anxious debate between 

Mr. X and myself. 

"X , I will say, on getting into camp, 

" What are we going to have to eat to-day ? " 

X , who is probably sitting with his back 

to the tent, polishing a boot, will give himself a 
sudden jerk round, as if my query was the most 
unexpected thing in the world, and will then slap 
his hand upon his back, and give an emphatic 
" Wheugh ! " This is a very bad sign indeed. 
" The rations is beef," he will say ; " but if 
you're agoing to have anything else " 

" Of course not," I cry, cheerfully. " Beef, to 

be sure, and a pudding. X , don't you think 

we could manage to have a pudding to-day ? " 

X puts down the boot he is laboriously 

blacking, and turns an injured countenance very 
slowly in my direction. (It is astonishing how 
painfully Btiff the poor man becomes, and how 


suddenly these attacks seem to seize him.) " / 
never heard of a pudding made without eggs," 
he says. "Not one as you and the master 
would care to eat, anyway. And you gave our 
last egg to Mrs. Chose for her breakfast in return 
for them two onions as they lent us yesterday." 

"But there are puddings," I make bold to 
persist sometimes. " In Mrs. Beeton's Book, 
page 346 " 

"Now, ril just tell you what it is," says 

X , looking appealingly round, as if calling 

upon the whole camp to judge between us ; " I 
don't set no manner of store by Mrs. Beeton, and 
that's the truth. What do such people as sit at 
home and write them books know about camp-life 
and all the ill conveniences we have to put up 
with here, before we can as much as get a morsel 
of beef fried — let alone a pudding ? I've done a 
deal of soldiering and a deal of cooking in my 
life, and got on well, too, without Mrs. Beeton. 
Did ye never hear of that plum-pudding as I 

made for Captain Y Z , when we was in 

the manoeuvres of '72 ? " 

There is an understanding between us that on 
the rare occasions when X resorts to lifting 


a pro£uie voice against Mrs. Beeton^ the argnment 
is for the moment at an end. 

"Ah! that pudding," I say, with an airy 
good-humoar, and not at all as if I were 
begging the question. " I think you have 

mentioned it before." (I wonder if Captain Y 

Z would have been half so sick of that 

pudding as I am, if he had eaten the whole of it 
himself at a sitting !) " You must make one like 
it for us when we have a day's halt again. The 
air of Africa does not affect our appetites, I find." 

" What surprises me," concludes X , stoop- 
ing creaJcily over the hole in the ground that does 
duty for our kitchener, and raking together the 
few embers it contains, " is how you and the 
master keep yer 'ealth the way you do. But I 
doubt if it adn't been for me you'd 'ave been but 
bad off sometimes. Howsoever, * grumble and go ' 
is my motto, though, what with these shooting 
pains " 

About this point in the discourse, a violent fit 

of coughing, which, to a careless observer, X 

might ahnost seem to court by holding his head 
immediately over the smoke of the fire, will often 
tovniiuato Iho nlight skirmishes with which X 


and I are accustomed to harass each other's forces 
without occasioning much loss on either side. 

Friends at home, groaning under the costly 
burden of a high civilization, would derive sweet 
consolation from knowing how we are confronted 
with the " domestic difficulty," even amidst South 
African sands and bush. 



Tlie same. 

One of the few amusements of which our mono- 
tonous life admits is trying to pick up a few 
words of the Kafir language — by no means so 
easy a matter as any of us had at first supposed. 
To pick up the words, as far as knowing them goes, 
is easy enough, but to put them together gram- 
matically — a point on which Kafirs (Zulu Kafirs, 
as all of these are here) insist — is difficult, and to 
pronounce them properly, hardest of all. My 
jaw aches with the incessant efforts I have been 
making for the last three days to pronounce "Cety- 
wayo " (the name of our possible future enemy), 
with the correct click at the beginning of it, 
and though I acquit myself very much to my 
own satisfaction, I perceive all is not quite as 
it should be, from the faint smiles, politely re- 


strained, by which my efforts are met by the 
wagon-drivers and " fore-loopers " (boys who 
lead the first pair of oxen), who act as our in- 

There is something extremely nice and en- 
gaging about these people, and even the humbler 
classes have a natural politeness of manner, which 
contrasts strikingly with the swagger and vul- 
garity too often found in certain orders in 
more civilized societies. I should suppose that 
such a thing" as a vulgar- Kafir is absolutely un- 

We often meet Kafir " runners " taking mes- 
sages from place to place, carrying their cow- 
hide shield in one hand, and a bunch of the light- 
throwing assegais in the other. In passing, they 
invariably salute us by raising one hand above 
the head and crying " Inkose," which means " my 
chief," while they pass at the slinging trot at 
which they always travel. Kafirs seldom walk ; 
when going a considerable distance their pace 
is a sort of trot, which they keep up for several 
hours together, marking time, as it were, with 
a monotonous drawling song in recitative, gene- 
rally setting forth an account of their battles, and 


what they intend to do to their enemies. They 
will repeat the same words, and the same two 
or three notes (which are invariably in a minor 
key, we have noticed), hundreds of times; and 
if there are four or five together, they will all 
unite in the same monotonous chant, as for in- 
stance, " Cetewayo is a lion ; but somebody else 
is a bigger lion ! He will kill him ; he will eat 
him ! " and so on, up hill and down dale for miles, 
without seeming to lose their wind, or to care 
to vary the subject of their song. 

Many whom we meet can speak a few words 
either of Dutch or English, and those who cannot 
are singularly ingenious in making themselves 
understood by pantomime. We often have con- 
versations with them, the drivers acting as in- 

Most of the Kafirs whom we have in- 
terrogated agree in saying that Cetewayo, the 
Zulu king, will not fight unless the quarrel is 
forced upon him. This idea we deprecate, of 
course, as being diametrically opposed to the 
policy of conciliation, which, we are given to 
understand, is the one which the G-ovemment is 
pursuing at present. Nevertheless, there are not 


wanting evidences of a tendency in colonial 
quarters to distort and exaggerate any of the 
Zulu king's peccadilloes, which, if not suppressed, 
must eventually neutralize all the efforts that 
are being made for peace. I do not believe, for 
my part, that the Home G-overnment would 
readily undertake a war which could not fail 
to prove so long and expensive a one as a 
campaign against the Zulus must inevitably be. 
The expense of transport in this country is 
enormous, and it is evident to us that there is 
a disposition on the part of the colonists to 
make the most of their present opportunities, by 
disposing of their wagons, oxen, and stores 
of every kind to the Government at absurdly 
exorbitant rates. The drought, too, which we 
hear is prevailing up country, would not fail to 
add to our difficulties in the event of a cam- 
paign, while it would not materially affect the 
Kafirs, who, besides always knowing where to 
find water, are able to endure the want of it 
better than the British soldier. Lightly clad, 
and having no baggage to carry, they can move 
in large bodies twenty or thirty miles in at 
least half the time that a column of regular 


troops, encumbered with wagons and spans of 
oxen, would take to get over the distance. 

These said wagons, which are the staple of 
locomotion for " families removing " in Natal, are 
cumbersome machines, calculated, at their greatest 
rate of speed, not to exceed two and a half miles 
an hour. In the present rough state of the 
country they are no doubt the best means of 
transport, though it would take a long period of 
naturalization before one could enter heartily into 
the spirit of the lay of the minstrel (Christy). 
Nevertheless, I did "jump into the wagon," to 
have a ride to-day, in order to give my mare a 
rest, as she is getting a sore back, to which 
Natal horses are very subject. 

Anything more fatiguing than wagon-traveU 
ling can hardly be imagined. The unfortunate 
inside passenger sits on the floor of the van, 
and arranges as many shawls, rugs, and pillows 
about him, to act as buffers, as he can lay hands 
on. But, in spite of everything he can do, he 
is thro^vn all about the whole time as the 
wagon jolts in and out of holes, often a foot 
deep, and over rocks and stones that seem as if 
they would throw him right up in the air. There 


are no springs, so it is easy to understand the 
effect such travelling would have upon invalids 
recommended to take " carriage exercise." Even 
I, sound in wind and limb, felt for my teeth, and 
had misgivings about the integrity of my arms 
and legs when we arrived at the halt for break- 
fast. This was made in a valley enclosed by very 
unpicturesque hills ; and we sat down on our 
rugs and camp-stools, with boxes for tables, while 
our servants impacked our stores and cooked our 
breakfasts, making tea, frying bacon, etc. It was 
all very sociable and jolly ; we were able to per- 
form little friendly oflSces, such as lending one 
another bread, butter, washing-basins, etc. Break- 
fast over, the ladies were very glad to walk part 
of the next march behind the wagon, instead of 
getting into it — indeed, one jumped out, terrified 
at a yawning chasm in the road, and never 
remembered that she had taken off her boots 
till she found herself on the ground. The roads 
were as slippery as glass in the early morning, 
and the doctor's horse fell down with him and 
shot him over his head. 

A handsome present of flowers and vegetables 

was sent to us at the place where we breakfasted, 



by General Lloyd, whose English-looking house, 
finely situated on a hill, overlooked the road. 
Lovely heliotrope, scented verbena, roses, gera- 
niums, and others, names unknown, were divided 
equally amongst us, together with the more 
substantial luxuries in the shape of cucumbers, 
rhubarb, etc., which we carried on to Estcourt 
for our dinner. 

The road was really tolerable, and the views 
of distant peaks and mountain ranges something 
exquisite. Estcourt lies in a richly wooded 
valley, watered by the Bushman's river. The 
hills stand round it rank behind rank, the 
distant points seeming to melt into the clear blue 
sky. You come upon this lovely view after a 
sudden turn in the road, when you see the valley 
and the river flashing like a silver streak himdreds 
of feet below you. It is impossible not to be 
struck by the boldness and beauty of the scenery, 
which is never wearying to the eye ; but to the 
ear there is always a sense of something wanting, 
which makes itself painfully felt even amidst the 
most perfect country, where the trees and flowers 
are like the realization of dreams. This is caused 
by the absence of the song of birds. Those that 


we see are well enough to look at, but seem 
incapable of more than a feeble twitter, at which a 
London sparrow would flout the tail of scorn. 
The dwellers in this part of the world have a 
proverb which they lose no opportunity of im- 
pressing upon us, namely, that "the rivers in 
Africa have no water, the flowers no scent, the 
birds no song, and the women no beauty " (they, I 
trust, mean Kajir women, of course !). There 
is nothing like making the best of things ; and I 
suppose the Africanders find something to be 
proud of in these alleged national peculiarities, 
from the positively boastful way in which they 
impress them upon us in nearly every place at 
which we stop. 

We were not sorry to get to our camping- 
ground by the side of the Bushman's river ; and 
I presented an edifying spectacle peeling rhubarb, 
scraping carrots, and slicing the oniony with the 
help of my little maid. Peeling the onion is 
always my business, as there seldom is more than 

one, which Gt— has generally bought at some 

wayside canteen, and carried all day in his haver- 
sack. It is too precious to risk having the least 
bit of it wasted, so I reserve the eye-watery and 


snifiFy process of peeling it and cutting it up to 

The pot was soon put on, and X , request- 
ing me to " mind the stew," as if it were a baby, 
retired to his dinner; while I was left to the 
anxious task of making the gravy, to which I 
devoted all my energies, together with consider- 
able quantities of Worcester sauce, flour, and 
butter, cunningly intermingled in accordance with 
the directions so ably laid down in Mrs. Beeton s 
invaluable work. The result was all that could 
be desired ; and having partaken of a comfortable 
meal of stewed beef, which is but very little 
tougher than ammunition boots, rounded oflF with 
a few kickshaws in the shape of stewed rhubarb, 
cucumber, and lobster salad, we are now about 
to assume all />T;ir various night-bags, caps, and 
cloaks, and address ourselves with a serene con- 
fidence to repose. 

Recent experience has convinced me that the 
right course to pursue, if you have been guilty of 
indulging in a somewhat severe supper, is to 
make all expedition to bed and forget it in several 
hours' sleep. It would have to be a very serious 
misdemeanour indeed that could forcibly intrude 
upon the memory after a hard day's march. 




March 22. 

We arrived here this afternoon, having crossed 
the Tugela yesterday at Colenso. The country 
through which we have been coming for the last 
two days has been lovely, but the heat so intense 
that we felt as if our brains were boiling in our 
skulls. The halts for breakfast have been gene- 
rally made in perfectly unsheltered places, and 
we have all thought less about breakfast than of 
crowding under the wagons to get a bit of shade. 
Riding under this hot sun for two or three hours, 
without having had a good meal at starting, 
exhausts all our energies by the time we get to 
the halts. 

On first setting out, with our teeth literally 
chattering with cold, and our ulsters buttoned 


closely up over our habits, the skirts of which get 
wet to the waist from brushing the dew off the 
long grasses which at this season grow saddle- 
high, we try to beguile the way, as they do in the 
"Pilgrim's Progress," with profitable discourse, 
and generally succeed pretty well for the first 
couple of hours or so. 

But the earliest ray which the sun shoots at 
us from over the mountain-tops is the signal that 
awakens myriads of flies to fulfil the mysterious 
purposes of their existence. These armies of 
Beelzebub are ably led to the attack in several 
well-organized parties, and we have to take off 
the handkerchiefs we had put round our necks for 
warmth, and muffle our faces in order to defend 
ourselves from their assaults. 

At the end of the second hour the talk begins 
to flag. After the third, we call upon the wagon- 
drivers and the transport-rider to tell us how many 
more miles we shall have to go. During the fourth 
hour we are as mute as fish, and go stumbling 
with slack reins along the dusty roads, too hungry 
and too hot to speak. To keep awake is the great 
difficulty ; it seems as if intense heat were nearly 
as bad as cold for causing overpowering drowsi- 


ness, and I have often seen one of my companions 
riding along in a sound sleep with the flies crawl- 
ing unheeded over her face. Sometimes we make 
a push for it, and gallop on to the halting-place 
with the rider and the commissariat oflScer, We 
then tie up our horses' bridles and turn them 
loose to feed, and, throwing ourselves face down- 
wards amongst the long grass, are asleep in a 
moment. If the grass is wet, I take off my 
saddle and sit upon it ; and, as a pillow, it is pre- 
ferable to an ant-hill, or to the thorn-apple plants 
which form a complete network here imder the 
most enticing-looking grass. 

The rumbling of the thirteen wagons, the 
shrieking of the drivers, and the cracking of the 
thirteen " shamboks," soon put an end to our doze. 

What the lungs of these drivers can be made 
of, or how they manage to keep up their inces- 
sant storm of yells, bellowings, and howls, are 
mysteries which Europeans cannot hope to pene- 
trate. At every hitch of the great lumbering 
machine against a stone, or in a hole in the road, 
the driver shouts, howls, and screams to the 
straining beasts ; applies his formidable " sham- 
bok" (a whip so heavy that I could hardly lift 


one, and which makes a report ahnost as loud as 
a revolver) to their sides, knocks his heels against 
the driving-box, throws himself about as if he 
were possessed, and threatens every ox separately 
and individually, calling upon each by name. 
The fore-looper comes to his assistance by hanging 
with all his weight on to the first pair of oxen, 
pounding them with his fists, slapping them with 
the reins, and gathering up handfuls of dirt and 
gravel to throw into their faces. The hitch con- 
tinuing, the noise redoubles ; two or three other 
Kafirs, attached to other wagons, rush delightedly 
into the meUe. All kick, all shout, and all throw 
gravel. The driver scrambles down from his box, 
and runs along to give each pair the benefit of 
a few strokes from his bullock-hide persuader. 
The great team sways from side to side of the 
road as the oxen shy from the application of the 
whip, which, heavy as it is, the drivers use with 
so much precision that they can pick out any 
ox from the spans of sixteen and eighteen, and 
follow up the warning process of " naming " him 
with a few admonitory cuts. 

The oxen low and snort, and, after a few 
inefi'ectual attempts to back and wind themselves 


up in the chain, there is a strong pull all together, 
and the wagon comes out of its hole or over 
its stone with a great jump and a bang, which 
has a galvanic effect on any hangers-on that there 
may be, and causes the " insiders " to see a whole 
firmament of stars. 

The first thing to do when a " span " of oxen 
is complete, is to christen each member of the 
team. By the name then given, the beast is 
invariably addressed, whether for objurgation or 
otherwise; and Kafirs will tell you that their 
oxen answer to their names, though I can't 
say I ever saw them evince such intelligence. 
" Deutschman," " Kafirland," " Kreutzman," 
were among the commonest, and there was in- 
variably an " Englishman " in the team. Oh 
how sorry I was for them all as the whip came 
down on their devoted backs and sides, and how 
doubly sorry I was for poor " Englishman ! " for 
Englishman was always the laziest, most 
stupid ox in the span, and one sometimes felt 
almost inclined to resent as a personal affront the 
evident delight which the Kafirs took in belabour- 
ing this poor brute on every possible occasion. 
The stripes that poor Englishman had to 


endure, seemed to be no bad test of the Kafirs' 
real feelings towards ns, however they might 
disguise them with native politeness and courtesy. 

Our camp on the night of the 20th was 
made at a place called Blaawkrantz, and the tents 
were pitched amidst a grove of mimosa bushes, 
where the grass was thickly carpeted with flowers. 
Our little camp, with its lamps and lanterns, 
looked so pretty in the moonlight, and reminded 
us of the Boulevards. After dinner we took a cup 
of coffee at a neighbouring tent, and tried to fancy 
ourselves in Paris. 

I found here a most exquisite variety of the 
oxalis, having a large pink flower, much resem- 
bh'ng a single geranium growing on a long, 
slender stem. I do not believe I have ever seen 
so elegant a plant before, but, like all sorrel, it 
withered immediately on being gathered. 

Yesterdav's march was the most tedious we 
have yet made. We spent seven hours roasting 
in the sun at Colenso, owing to a dispute between 
the wagon-master and the other authorities 
UH to the proper time for crossing the Tugela 

(\)]enso is a town of the usual stamp, consist- 


ing of one long street of detached houses, a couple 
of canteens, and about the same number of general 
shops — " stores," as they are called here — ^where 
you can buy all the old refuse of the Birmingham 
and Manchester markets, at fancy prices. 

Money, we find, has a purely nominal value 
here, and is, in fact, about the cheapest thing 
in the colony. If you have any small articles of 
home manufacture to exchange, you can get more 
than their full value in store goods. But if you 
pay in coin of the realm, you are charged absurdly 
exorbitant prices, which are fixed entirely ac- 
cording to the fancy of the store-keeper, 
and not regulated by any standard whatever. 
As you get further inland, also, copper coinage 
ceases to be current. Kafirs will have nothing to 
do with copper money, and pennies are quite at a 
discount here. Threepenny bits are the lowest 
coins which are in general circulation here; I 
should think there must be enormous quantities of 
them in the colony. They are in great request 
among the Kafirs, who call them " ticcys," and 
hoard them up for the purpose of paying their 
annual rents, or whatever their dues to the 
Grovemment are called. 


There is a very clean, tidy inn at Colenso, kept 
by a gentleman who, we understood, had formerly 
served as an officer in the army. I rode on early 
with one of the other ladies, and reached the 
canteen in time, as we imagined, to secure a 
capital breakfast for our husbands by the time the 
column should come up. We reached the inn 
about eight o'clock, and though that is late for 
Natal, the lady of the house was not yet visible, 
and we were received by the landlord, and shown 
into a pretty, cool little sitting-room that looked 
quite English with its snug easy-chairs, and book- 
cases, and pretty water-colours on the walls. 

We were famishing with hunger, and counted 
the minutes till the column should come in sight. 
But, after waiting till we were faint, a message 
came up from the river to say that the detachment 
was going to cross immediately, and we should 
have breakfast on the other side. There was 
nothing to be done but to have our horses brought 
round again, and to make the best of our way 
down to the water's edge. On reaching it we 
found only one or two wagons with the oxen out- 
spanned, and grazing in their usual business-like 
manner, as if they knew what it was to have no 


time to spare. So we had to sit down for a good 
broil, and wait in no very amiable frame of mind 
for the arrival of the soldiers. 

As soon as the column came down the hill, 
the tug of war began. The commissariat officer, 
who is young and energetic, had made up his 
mind that we should make the halt for breakfast 
on the further side of the river ; the master of 
the wagons^ glorying in his independence, " con- 
cluded," as Yankees say, to stop on this. The 
contention was carried on with great spirit on 
both sides, and was an edifying spectacle to us 
who were privileged to sit round on the grass, 
dying with hunger, while we watched this battle 
of the gods. While the tumult was at its highest, 
we attempted another adjournment to the hotel, 
but were speedily called back to our duty, without 
having had time to swallow a mouthful of any- 
thing more satisfying than soda-water. We were 
now at the end of the sixth hour, and matters 
were still at a dead-lock, all of us who constituted 
the rank-and-file of the opposing armies beginning 
to look exceedingly grim, and to display a certain 
amount of tartness in our conversation with one 


Our young officer, who made up in spirit and 
resolution what he may have lacked in years and 
previous experience, evinced every determination 
to face starvation for himself (and the rest of us) 
sooner than give way ; but as her Majesty's troops 
must on no account be included in this inconve- 
nience, the men were all transported across the 
water in the ferry-boat, and sat down to a com- 
fortable meal on the other side. 

" There shall be an account rendered for this 
conduct," said our officer, whose dignity had 
received unpardonable affront at being publicly 
bearded by this insolent official. " The man will 
never have another contract with Government 
again, I will take care of that." 

"My oxen are outspanned, and he may get 
them in again if he can," announced the other, on 
the step of the hotel, appealing to Mrs. Chose and 
myself as the nearest audience. " What do I care 
for his contracts ? Tell me that ! The oxen are 
mine and the wagons are mine. I'm a Natalian, I 
am. Oh, yes, I'm a Natalian ! " 

"You're not," said I, mistaking the sound, 
"Whoever heard of an Italian called Dickens? 
Don't talk such stuff ! " 


This turned the vials of his wrath upon us. 

" I tell you I am a Natalian ! " he shouted, 
absolutely dancing with rage. " I never was so 
insulted before." 

" And we never were so hungry before," we 
retorted, with pardonable asperity, as we resumed 
our prowl round the baggage-wagon, in search 
of something to devour. 

" On one point my mind is made up," said I 

tragically to X , who had long ago succumbed 

to the situation. " Come what may, I will never 
be separated from my luggage ! " 

X , who had been lying on his back in the 

eye of the sun, in order that he might be the 
better able to complain of the overpowering heat, 
gathered himself together, and approached the 
wagon with a deplorable limp. "I doubt ye'U 
have more than that to put up with before the end 
of this trip," said he, grimly. " You'll be wanting 
something to eat now, I'm thinking." 

" Eat ! " I would have given the half of my 
kingdom to any one who would fry me an egg 
and a bit of bacon ! " If you thought you could 
light the stove, X ," I say, looking despair- 
ingly at the wagon, where a corner of our 


provision box was visible from beneath some 
couple of tons of baggage ; " but I'm afraid we 
should find it very difficult to cook anything in 
this dust and dirt." 

But for once, X , who by his own account 

was never able to do more himself than touch 
a morsel of dry bread at rare intervals, was in- 
clined to humour the infirmities of a less superior 
organization, and began pulling the boxes out of 
the wagon, and cutting rashers of bacon ; while 
his groans and ejaculations were fully calculated 
to impress the bystanders with the idea that he 
was indeed spending all his last energies in our 

"I never was one to make much account of 
difficulties — leastways, not till I got took with 
these pains," said he. " I've cooked many a good 
dinner before now in the pouring rain. Did ye 
ever happen to hear of that pudding as I made 

for Captain Y Z , when we was at the 

manoeuvres of '72 ? Mind the pan, ma'am ! You 
must let the bacon warm a bit before you put 
in the eggs. Well, I was saying, how it did rain 
then to be sure ! and me and W , as is Cap- 
tain Chose's servant now, we took oflF our coats. 


and we went and stood one of us on each side 
of the fire " 

I vow and declare that X had proceeded 

no farther in this well-known anecdote, when 
we heard a shouting and galloping approaching. 
The rashers, over which I was bending with more 
than maternal solicitude, were beginning to as- 
sume that exquisite, transparent rosiness of com- 
plexion, which marks the moment when the first 
turn is demanded from the judicious chef — ^when 
the portentous crack of the shambok resounded 
from just in front of the wagon, and Whiteman, 
Deutschman, and Englishman drew themselves 
up in line on the side of the road, and, amidst 
the usual yells and objurgations, bowed their meek 
heads to the yoke. 

In a trice, X had whipped the frying-pan 

off the top of the stove, and I had the anguish 
of beholding my semi-cooked breakfast disappear 
again into the provision box. It is a thing to 
laxijgh at now, having since partaken of two or 
three substantial meals, and had several hours' 
sleep ; but at the moment I believe I could have 
cried I But there was nothing for it but to cross 
the river in the ferry-boat, remount our horses, 



and go on to the next camping-ground— a matter 
of some four or five hours more, sustained only 
by a hunch of bread and jam, which one of the 
maids had had the presence of mind to snatch 
in the confusion of packing up. Kafir's back 
getting worse, I had to resign myself to the 
wagon, and, in sheer self-preservation, elected to 
walk nearly the whole of the march. 

We did not get into camp till dark, and 
pitched the tents near a deserted canteen called 
the Rising Sun. We were all tired out and 
exhausted from want of food, and made many 
good resolutions for another day, of keeping a 
tin of meat open in the wagon, in order to be 
ready for all emergencies. 




March 23. 

We are now enjoying our first day's halt since 
leaving Maritzburg, and most of us are too lazy 
to do more than remain in camp all day, with the 
exception of paying a brief visit to the store, 
where we replenished our canteen with jam and 
tinned sonps and meats. 

We have considerably modified our expecta- 
tions of these towns of the second magnitude 
since passing Estcourt and Colenso, and were 
agreeably surprised to find Ladysmith quite on 
a par with a good-sized village at home. It 
may not be quite so populous ; but there are two 
or three good stores, a couple of hotels, a gaol, 
and a very respectable-looking Dutch church and 
schodb. To be sure, one does not see much traffic 


in the streets, the inevitable coal cart and 
" morning's milk " are here conspicuous by their 
absence. The town, which seems to lie blinking 
in a sort of sleepy hollow, is awakened two or 
three times a week by the sweeping past of the 
up and down country post-carts, and instead of the 
shrieking gangs of marble-playing, orange-peel- 
throwing, altogether detestable young fry, who 
make havoc of the streets and lanes at home, you 
see good-hxunoured, grinning Kafir boy-nurses, clad 
in their loose cotton blouses, carrying out little 
white-headed babes to play in the warm, brown 
sand. Ladysmith makes up in beauty, or rather 
in snug prettiness, for what it lacks in com- 
mercial activity and bustle. It nestles, as it were, 
close to the Klip river, at the foot of a chain of 
rugged hills, and the picturesque, thatched houses 
peep out from amidst perfect bowers and clouds 
of roses, which here take the place of hawthorn 
hedges at home. 

On our way to Ladysmith, the midday halt 
was made at a place marked on the map as 
Ostrich Plain, It is quite a small place, well 
wooded, and by no means the barren tract of 
w ^. c<?u^try geographers would lead one to suppose. 

w *■ - 

«» • • : - 


Those of us who had expected to see ostriches 
there were disappointed. I never heard of one 
having been seen within miles of the place during 
the memory of man ; but there were lovely birds 
that we took for lyre-birds, but which we were told 
were Kafir finches — ^black, very handsome, with 
two long feathers in their tails. These feathers 
furnish the long plxunes worn by the Kafir soldiers 
in battle and on all occasions of full-dress. They 
are strung together in bunches, and part of the 
plume hangs down the back. They look like 
cock's feathers when made up, and each head- 
dress contains at least a hundred feathers. When 
you consider that there are only two feathers on 
each bird, it becomes evident that many thousands 
of them ?nust be slaughtered every year. We 
could not make out what they were when we first 
saw them, appearing and disappearing, with their 
long black trains dangling behind them, as they 
flew in and out of the tall grass. They are 
clumsy flyers, and on a stormy day must take a 
long time getting to their destinations, as they 
are blown all ways by the wind, owing to their 
unwieldy tails. 

As usual, one of the other ladies and I reached 


Ladysmith some time before the rest of the party ; 
but were brought up at the entrance to the town 
by the river, which no persuasions would induce 
our horses to cross. The commissariat officer, 
who had ridden on with us, and who was in a 
happier frame of mind, as he had settled his 
difficulties by dismissing the turbulent Dickens, 
struck his heels into his long-suffering pony and 
floundered across ; while we were reduced to the 
ignominious necessity of the ferry-boat, and our 
horses were led through by a Kafir. 

A bath is generally our first idea on getting 
into camp, as in dry weather we are powdered 
from head to foot with dust, which rises in clouds 
behind the wagons whenever there is a breath of 
air stirring. With a view to obtaining this in- 
dispensable luxury, I left my companion at the 
river-side, and making my way to what I was 
told I was to consider the chief hotel in the place, 
preferred my modest request to an elderly gentle- 
man whom I discovered lounging in the verandah. 

These colonists, especially the innkeepers, seem 
to have a perfectly Oriental apathy and languor 
about them ; and on reaching your hotel, if there 
should not happen to be a Kafir within call to 


execute your behests, the visitor must resign him- 
self to a discussion on the weather, the last smash 
to the post-cart, the reasons which have brought 
him to that part of the country, and the merits 
and demerits of the last hotel at which he has 
been stopping, before it will occur to the host or 
hostess to minister in person to his necessities. 

After the usual delay, I induced the landlord 
to show me into a gloomy apartment, more like a 
larder than a bedroom, where I was told I might 
expect a bath to be brought to me within a reason- 
able time — say a quarter of an hour or so. I 
spent at least as much time as that (during which, 
I suppose, my host resumed his smoking in the 
verandah, and forgot all about me) in contem- 
plating the ravages made by ants, and the mouldy 
strips of paper hanging from the walls ; and then, 
getting tired of waiting, I made my way into the 
stable-yard, remounted my horse, and proceeded 
to try my luck at the other hotel. 

Here I met with every attention, and no doubt 
could have supplemented my bath by a capital 
dinner, had not a severe headache, produced by 
the fatigue and heat, kept me for the remainder of 
the day a prisoner to my tent, X , to do him 


justice, made a most assiduous nurse, and was 
instant in pressing me to partake of beef, fried 
potatoes, and other delicacies, which he considered 
especially calculated to tempt the appetite of a 
person prostrated by an attack of violent sick 
headache ! » 

It has been a great treat to us all to have a 
day's rest in camp, beginning with two hours' 
extra sleep, as reveille did not sound till six instead 
of four. Oh, what a relief not to have to tumble 
out of bed in the dark, fmnble about amongst the 
wet grass for the matches, upset the box either 
into your basin or your bed, and before you are 
half-presentable to the outside world, hear a few 
ominous taps on your pegs, and the voice of your 
servant proclaiming at the door, " Party come to 
strike the tent, ma'am, if you please ! " 

*' If you please ! " It is in such moments as 
these that one becomes ashamed of the " piles of 
humbug " there must be in the world, caused 
by what are styled " the ordinary courtesies of 
life ! " 


PilgnrtCs Best, 

March 25. 

Certainly, England is not the only country 
in the world with a treacherous chmate. We can 
hardly persuade ourselves that a couple of days 
ago we were in a state of semi-dissolution from 
the heat, seeing that we are now shaking with 
cold at the foot of the Biggarsberg Mountains. 

We are encamped in a narrow valley, close 
to a stream. A collection of Kafir kraals, looking 
like an assemblage of Brobdignagian beehives, is 
on one side of the water, and our tents are pitched 
upon the other, I do not know what I should 
call this place in correct colonial parlance, for, as 
at home it takes three people to form a con- 
gregation, perhaps, even in Natal, as many 
houses are required to make a town, and there 
are only two here — a canteen and a store. They 
make the most they possibly can of themselves, 
however, and at each we were particularly as- 
sured that there was no connection whatever 
with the shop over the way. 

The little canteen amused us all by being 
so comically smart and bright, with sky-blue 
doors, scarlet curtains, and vallance in muslin 


bags, looking exactly like the practicable cottage 
" to memory dear " of melodramatic associations. 
It was disgusting to be attended upon by a 
buxom but inadequately girthed Kafir lady, when 
we half expected to have surprised the disguised 
countess, all straw hat and blue ribbons and un- 
sophistication, in the porch. 

The only spectacle presented to us, however, 
was that of a semi-wild bull, that was being 
killed for our rations at the store. It was shot 
with a bullet just as we came up, and was 
skinned and cut up on the spot, being no more 
pleasant to look at than, I dare say, it will be 
to eat. I confess, for my part, I prefer not to 
have seen my dinner walking about, at any rate, 
within some twenty-four hours of being called 
upon to eat it. 




March 27. 

We reached this place in time for lunch, and as- 
we can see from our camp the hills that stand 
roimd Utrecht, we feel as if we were almost 
at the end of our long march. Now that it 
is nearly over, we feel as if it had been a mere 
nothing, and we can hardly persuade ourselves 
that we are really looking at the grassy moun- 
tains of the Transvaal, which we have been 
journeying these last two months to reach. 

Except for the honour and glory of the thing, 
we might just as well be upon the Downs at 
home. There is not a tree, or a plant, except grass,, 
within sight, nor anything to prevent us from 
fancying we are in England ; and if I were ta 
shut my eyes, I really don't believe I should be 
very much surprised if I were told that I waa 


to open them the next minute in the middle of 
Salisbury Plain. Our old friend, the east wind, 
or something that is a very good imitation of it, 
is not wanting, and sharpens his knife, to cut 
one in two, in shady corners and after the sun 
goes down. 

If I were to be asked from which extreme of 
climate in South Africa one suffers most, I really 
believe I should say the cold. It is not so much 
the lowness of the temperature as the sudden 
changes that are so trying, especially on this 
high table-land. Though nothing can exceed the 
baking heat of the sun, during all the hours 
that it is below the horizon we are shivering 
with cold, and in crossing the Biggarsberg, all 
our warm cloaks and wraps were required to 
keep up the caloric. 

It was something fearful to see the post-cart 
getting up the mountain ; the horses stopping to 
rest every two or three minutes, and then strain- 
ing on at a gallop over the loose stones. The road- 
side flowers, especially a sort of primrose-scented 
clematis, were exquisite, also the rose-coloured, 
flowering grasses, which give a sort of bloom, 
almost like the red flush of morning, to the veldt. 


At this season of the year numbers of quaint- 
looking vultures collect when we pitch the camp ; 
they seem to smell it (or I believe I should say, 
see it) for miles, and though there may not have 
been one visible when we get to camp, half an 
hour after the rations have been served out, 
hundreds of them are fighting and quarrelling 
over the offal. It has been proved that these 
great birds do all their catering by means of 
their extraordinary quickness of sight, and if 
a portion of the carrion is hidden amongst the 
rocks they are unable to discover it, no matter 
how strong it may smell, or how close to it they 
may be feeding. How great must be the pre- 
cision and clearness of the sight that, from what 
appears a mere speck in the blue heavens, can 
distinguish the carcase of a dead dog, even 
amidst the immense extent of hill and plain 
that is stretched beneath it! And what would 
the Astronomer-royal give, I wonder, if he could 
apply such an eye to his biggest telescope for half 
an hour ! 

We had one or two rivers to cross on our 
way here, which were rather awkward to get 
through in the early twilight. Our horses made 


u determined stand at the last one, so I climbed 
up on to one of the companies' wagons, and had 
Kafir led through by a soldier. The men thought 
it very good fun. We all had to lie down on the 
top of the baggage, and hold on as well as we 
could, while the wagon bumped and splashed 
in and out of holes, and cannoned up against the 
rocks. We felt as if we were being mast-headed, 
as the tall pile of baggage swayed from side to 
side. These wagons never turn over, unless 
some part of their solid framework is actually 
shattered, but it is difficult to keep on one without 
a tilt, unless you are securely roped on, a la 
Mazeppa. The men managed to hold me on 
and themselves too, and I clasped with ardour 
a sack of bedding. But I did not feel safe till 
I found myself once more on Kafir^s back. 

I was glad I had not insisted on riding 
through, when I heard that the channel was 
narrow, and the water five feet deep on either 
side. The other ladies had to pursue the same 
plan, but they were so long mating up their 
minds, that they did not get through till the 
column came up. Two or three wagons stuck; 
I could hear the shrieking of the drivers, and the 


moaning of the oxen far away on to the top of 
the hill, nearly a mile distant. 

We. made our halt for breakfast two miles out 
of Newcastle, and to our intense delight found 
that the English letters had been sent out to meet 
us. Immediately our little camp was all excite- 
ment. No one thought of breakfast, and the 
canteen, which was turned into the post-office 
pro tern., was regularly besieged. 

We (the ladies) are disposed to regard the can- 
teen-sergeant in the light of a benefactor, seeing 
that this worthy man keeps a tin of biscuits open for 
us in his wagon, and is never deaf to the appeals 
of, " Can you give us a bit of a biscuit, Sergeant 

A ? " or, " Sure you have got something nice 

for us in your box this cold " (or hot) " morning?" 
as the case may be. Of beverages, too, this truly 
able man has always a stock in hand, of the 
cooling and insipid class especially adapted to 
tempt the female palate, and on arriving at the 
halts, is wont to cry — 

^^ Ladies, there is some first-rate ginger beer 
on tap this morning ; " or, " I have just uncorked 
a bottle of rare lemon syrup, if you would like 
to take a drink." 


To whom we are ultimately indebted for these 
favours is a moot point amongst us, but the 
reflection that we may be " sticking " the Gl-ovem- 
ment to the extent of a captain's biscuit, and a 
teaspoonful of lemon syrup, imparts an infinite 
zest and relish to these refreshments. Neverthe- 
less, all the memory of past indulgences on the 
part of the worthy sergeant, would not have 
prevented our setting our faces like flint against 
him, if he had not found a letter from England 
for each of us to-day. 

After landing in a new country, the first 
arrival of home letters is an event to be talked 
of for days before and after ; and our eagerness to 
read of events that took place some five weeks 
back (the course of which might very possibly 
have been entirely altered during that time) 
would surprise folks at home, accustomed to re- 
ceiving daily letters, containing a digest of the 
doings of the day before. At the end of the first 
few weeks, although the interest remains the 
same, the excitement gradually subsides. 

At the outskirts of Newcastle we were met by 
an officer of the detachment of troops stationed 
here, who most hospitably invited us to the mess. 


To reach the barracks, we had to cross the 
Incandu river, which our horses forded very 
respectably, having, by this time, got so used to 
wading. Fort Amiel (called so after the colonel 
of the 80th) is situated on a hill, overlooking the 
town, and, with very little trouble, the position 
could be made impregnable to any enemy of the 
kind that is ever likely to attack it. The barracks 
are simply a collection of mud houses, but even 
these are infinitely in advance of tents, inasmuch 
as you may go to sleep with a well-founded hope 
of finding your bedroom walls in statu quo when 
you wake in the morning. One or two of the 
outer coats of dust having been removed in one of 
the officer's quarters, which was specially fitted up 
for the ladies with pins and all feminine accoutre- 
ments, we sat down to "tiffin" in a very nice 
marquee, enjoyed the luxury of a table-cloth and 
silver forks, drank out of wine-glasses, and alto- 
gether had a most sumptuous feast. In the 
evening the 80th entertained us again most 
handsomely at " mess," and I really think we be- 
haved pretty well, considering how long we had 
been unused to the restraints of civilization. 

We had a very rough night, the wind 


blowing hard, and as all the tents are deficient 
of the proper number of pegs, and many have 
hardly any left, we were expecting to have them 
blown about our ears every moment, and the 
draught and flapping made us have but an uneasy 
night of it. One or two jumped up, and held on 
to their poles, under the impression that they 
were coihing down, and most of us spent a good 
part of the night going round the tents, trying to 
fasten them more securely. It was horribly cold, 
and very wretched, but we had our heads well 
wrapped up, and contrived to sleep, in spite of 
the wind and the noise. 

This morning we went into Newcastle, to see 

Gj- , with a scratch eleven, getting a beating 

from the Newcastle Cricket Club. This club is 
quite the best in these parts, and is always on 
the look-out for fresh victims. Of course, there 
were but few to play on our side, and they all felt 
rather strange at having to run upon cocoa-nut 
matting, which is put down between the wickets, 
as the grass is so coarse, and the ground so 
uneven and full of holes. My husband told me 
afterwards that, though of course not equal to 
turf, this matting made a very fair pitch. The 


ball came off it very fast and true, and it was 
infinitely preferable (so he said) to many grounds 
at home which cost much time and money. 

Newcastle is a " town " (so called) of some- 
what more pretension than Ladysmith or Estcourt, 
and is said by its panegyrists to have a future be- 
fore it. It is quite possible it may ; at present one 
fails to see any symptoms of it. There are the 
usual stores, selling inferior goods at exorbitant 
prices, a few scattered houses, and a church. Coal 
of good quality is abundant in the neighbouring 
hills (hence the name), and this, no doubt, will do 
much for the place when the railway is pushed for- 
ward. Newcastle may be called the half-way house 
between Durban and Pretoria, and so long as this 
route obtains it may continue to advance ; but in 
the event of the projected railway being con-- 
structed between the latter place and Delagoa Bay, 
which will shorten the distance between the in- 
terior and coast some hundred miles, one cannot 
help thinking that the future of Newcastle may 
be painted in somewhat too glowing colours. 




After " tiflfin " we found a light cart and team of 
mules placed at the disposal of such of the ladies 
as cared to take a drive. None of them did care 
apparently, for after parading up and down for 
some time, the driver was . ahout to take his 
chariot home, when, thinking it a pity such a 
courteous offer should go unaccepted, I asked him 
to take me to see a Kafir wedding that was going 
on in the neighbourhood, and invited a couple of 
the ladies'-maids to accompany me. No sooner 
had I organized this little expedition, than several 
who had previously refused to go altered their 
minds, and in the end we were quite a respectable 
party, some riding, and the rest of us packing up, 
like the bits of a dissected puzzle, in the mule- 


The wedding was at a kraal about two miles 
from the camp. Shall I ever forget that drive, as 
we jolted over stones and " shaved " ant-hills, and 
bumped in and out of holes, the mules all the time 
going at full gallop, till we really expected that 
the cart would turn over with us every moment ? 
But we have grown so used to that sort of driving 


now, that we only laugh and try to avoid having 
our hats smashed and our heads broken against 
the sides of the wagons. As we approached the 
kraal, our ears were greeted by the shrieks, yells, 
and howls of the wedding party ; and, on sur- 
mounting a ridge of ground, we came upon a 
company all in " full fig," practising one of their 
dances. The men wore large plumes of black 
feathers, which covered their heads and hung 
down over their shoulders. They had shields 
covered with cow-hide, and carried sticks, which 
they waved and brandished in a very warlike 
manner. They were continually in motion, 
stamping, grunting, and shouting, and at last 
fell into a kind of procession, which moved on 
towards the kraal, dancing all the way. Every 
now and then some warrior, more than usually 
excited, would burst from the ranks, and bound, 


with a high-stepping action, several yards in 
advance. He would then stop, and with queer 
antics and strange gyrations, would go through 
the motions of killing his antagonist, continuing 
them amidst the plaudits of his companions till 
they caught him up, when he would fall in, only 
to be succeeded by an excited rival, eager to equal 
if not to out-do him. 

The two sisters of the bride, elegantly attired 
in a few rows of green, white, and pink beads, 
accompanied this jovial crew, shrieking and racing 
•about as if possessed. The father of the bride was 
there too, distinguishable from the other " braves " 
by the extra length of his tail of feathers, which 
hung from the top of his head and reached all 
down his back. As this interesting company pro- 
ceeded, they were met by women in pairs, all 
dressed (?) alike in the same charming simplicity, 
who ran to meet them, screaming at the top of 
their voices, and making a most peculiar tremu- 
lous, shrill noise, which reminded me more of 
"neighing" than anything else. These fell into 
the ranks, as did a large company of young girls 
and children, who all rushed to meet the proces- 
sion, yelling as loud as they could, and appearing 
to be quite mad with excitement. 


The whole body then advanced at a majestic 
sort of pace, all taking one step forward at the 
same moment, raising their shields, giving a 
stamp and a yell, and so on till they got to a sort 
of parade-ground in front of the kraal, where they 
drew up in line two or three deep, and continued 
the stamping and shouting, waving of arms, posi- 
tioning, and all the other manoeuvres, accom- 
panying themselves by a song, which consisted in 
the perpetual reiteration of three notes in a minor 
key. I have ascertained that this tune is the 
same which is used by them on all similar 

The bride, surrounded by a whole bevy of 
sisters and sympathizing friends, knelt on a mat 
facing the dancers, and held a shield and a knife 
in her hand. Her dress consisted of beads 
arranged with great taste, and her hair was 
elaborately got up with the brass wire and palm 
oil of the period. But what entertained us the 
most was the blasSy contemptuous expression of 
her countenance, which was evidently the highest 
mode for Kafir brides to assume. 

Here, as amongst more enlightened society, all 
the interest on the wedding day centres in the 


bride, and for one day in her life she enjoys a sort 
of mock sovereignty before she is handed over to 
become the slave of her husband. 

We threaded our way through the crowd, 
who made room for us most good-humouredly, 
and stood close by this interesting creature. 

Every now and then some man or woman left 
the ranks of the dancers, rushed up to the bride, 
jumping and gesticulating violently, and shrieked 
out something at her, which, perhaps, it was just 
as well we did not understand; but I believe it 
was some kind of badinage, more pointed than 
polite, which it is the fashion for Kafir ladies to 
sit to hear on their wedding day. The bride 
never took the least notice of these witticisms, 
except that she often threw back her head and 
shut her eyes with a most disdainful expression. 
And it would have delighted the soid of the 
Darwinian philosopher to have observed that in 
assuming this look she used all the gestures and 
movements employed by the most highly trained 
white lady to express similar emotions. Generally 
she afiected not to see these people at all, and she 
never addressed any one except her attendants, 
with whom she occasionally laughed and joked. 


This performance had been going on since 
about eight o'clock in the morning. It was now 
near sundown, and none of the revellers seemed 
tired. The bridegroom and the rest of the com- 
pany continued their measured stamping and 
shouting, as wildly as ever. The noise was 
stunning. They all seemed pleased to see us, and 
though evidently amused at our appearance and 
dress, forbore from any impertinent exhibition of 
curiosity, and treated us with that unaflfected 
politeness and good nature which is a most 
winning characteristic of Kafir manners. 

After a time, Kafir beer came round in a large 
sort of calabash, made of clay and elegantly 
shaped like a cocoa-nut cut in half. It was ladled 
out by a gentleman in front of the bride, and 
handed round with profuse liberality. It did 
not look particularly inviting, but there was no 
possibility of refusing it. Teetotalism, or even 
temperance principles, are not understood by even 
the most advanced Zulus. 

The Kafir tasted it first, and then handed me 
the panakin, out of which I took as deep a 
draught as I could prevail upon myself to swallow. 
It was a pinkish colour, of the consistency of 


gooseberry-fool, seemed more of tte nature of 
wort than beer, and tasted slightly acid. It was 
not disagreeable, and I had the presence of mind 
to say it was nice, at which the Kafir gentleman 
patted his Tjoaistcoat and cried enthusiastically, 
" Gj-ood, missis ! Ya-as ; good, good ! " I was 
nevertheless relieved at finding I was not expected 
to drink the whole contents of the panakin. 
Several of the company shook hands with us, and 
asked us for snuff. A good many seemed rather 
the worse for the beer, notably one very stout, 
good-humoured lady, who was extremely coquet- 
tish, pretended to be shy, and hid her face on 
her husband's shoulder. 

Soon after this the bride went inside one of 
the huts, and we were not long in taking our 
departure. We did not escape, however, without 
having again to partake of beer, served out this 
time by the bridegroom, a middle-aged steady- 
looking gentleman. 

He was very sociable and pleasant, and in- 
formed us, by counting on his fingers, that this 
was his seventh wife. We offered our warmest 
felicitations, with which he seemed highly grati- 
fied, and one of our party presented the bride 


with a sovereign. The happy man must have 
been quite a millionaire, for we understood that 
this wife was to be treated with great considera- 
tion, and to have a hut to live in by herself. 

As a general rule, the wives all live together. 
Besides the ten cows, which is the regular fixed 
price for a wife, he had given a bullock, a sheep, 
and a kid, to be roasted for the wedding breakfast. 

We were not sorry to return to camp, for the 
evening was getting chilly. No one would 
believe for what a long distance the measured 
tread, or rather stamp, of the dancers, sounding 
like faint thunder, could be heard. 

I was surprised to see what really pleasing 
faces many of the women had, and how tastefully 
their rather meagre toilettes were arranged. 
Indeed, though most of us are but plain soldier 
folk, and unaccustomed to the fashions of exalted 
society, the lowness of the Kafir ladies' dresses 
hardly struck us as at all remarkable. Tlie 
modesty and unconsciousness with which they 
were worn could not have been surpassed by that 
of the most artless, white-frocked debutante that 
ever blushed in a drawing-room at home. 

When one saw all these light-liearted, good- 


humoured people, dancing their quaint steps and 
brandishing their funny cow-hide shields, one 
could not help an earnest wish that the war, said 
to be impending, may, by some means or other, be 

Although, doubtless, they can be ferocious 
enough when excited, as one can see from their 
gestures and general demeanour, yet there is a 
simplicity about them which makes them seem 
almost like children, after all. They themselves 
deride the notion of a war with us, and declare 
that the great Cetewayo himself is desirous above 
all things of maintaining peace. But, of course, 
at home things can only be known through the 
representations of people who are on the spot ; 
and there seems to be here a general tending of 
things towards war, barring, perhaps, the incli- 
nations of the Kafirs themselves. 

To those, however, who are well grounded in 
their " jEsop," and can recall the celebrated dis- 
pute between the wolf and lamb, this backward- 
ness will seem the most trifling exception possible ; 
and after all, the war, if war there is to be, cannot 
fail, I am told, to be productive of the very best 
results to all parties concerned. 


One must hope, therefore, that the Kafirs will 
accept our apparently violent methods of civilizing 
them in the spirit in which they are meant, and 
will cheerfully suffer themselves to be missionized, 
shot, and bayonetted into tail-coats, monogamy, 
and trial by jury. They must see — that is, they 
must be made to see — that it is better to be im- 
proved, even if needs be off the face of the earth, 
than to remain in their present condition of bar- 
barous, if blissftd, ignorance. 



Utrechty Transvaaly 

April 3. 

We marclied out of Newcastle on Sunday, the 
30th, after having attended church parade in a 
marquee, at which we were all present. There 
was a clergyman, in full canonicals, who read 
prayers and preached us a sermon ; and the sing- 
ing was very nicely done by the soldiers. 

I believe the Kafirs sing extremely well in 
their own churches at Maritzburg and other large 
towns, but in their natural state their ideas of 
music and religion seem the most rudimentary 
possible; in fact, with regard to religion, they 
cannot properly be said to have any ideas at all. 
I heard that they worship the green mamba, a 
harmless variety of that deadly snake, but could 
not discover that they had any religious rites, and 
they certainly' have neither temples nor sacred 


places of any kind. Although there is said to 
be no trace amongst them of a belief in the 
existence of a future state, they have a most par- 
ticular dread of ghosts, and upon the death of 
their relatives, are said to take minute precau- 
tions to make sure that their good-bye should be 
a final one. 

That they have some ideas of the supernatural 
is evident from the existence of the rain-makers, 
a set of functionaries whose trade is, to say the 
least of it, rather a precarious one — Cetewayo 
having threatened to kill off two or three of them 
in consequence of the prevailing drought. 

The witch-finder, or " smeller," who is an in- 
valuable ally of the rain-maker, perhaps represents 
the nearest approach to a priest, and conducts the 
sacrifice of the unfortunate victims of private 
malice, who are accused of having, by their 
sorceries, interfered with the cloud-compelling 

The mode of discovering these poor wretches 
is very imposing, with its incantations and pro- 
cessions round the kraal, its final halt at the hut 
of the previously unsuspected person, and the 
inevitable discovery of stolen treasure buried at 


the door. But, like most conjuring performances, 
nothing can be more simple when you know the 
trick, and, as is generally the case with such 
experiments, the whole secret is contained in the 
saying that those who hide can find — ^the learned 
smeller hjtving previously conferred with the head 
man of the tribe, and having himself, in accord- 
ance with the chief's instructions, buried the 
treasure, which he afterwards discovers with so 
much pomp and ceremony. 

Although this does not seem to promise much, 
the Kafirs have a strict and, on the whole, just 
code of law, and the infringement of it is punish- 
able by fine or death. The enlightened principles 
of limited liability not being understood by the 
Kafirs, every member of each tribe is responsible 
to the full extent of his cattle, for all his friends 
as well as himself. And in the event of one man 
being mulcted in a heavy fine, the whole tribe 
must pay or sufier the penalty of having their 
kraals destroyed, and being turned in a body out 
of house and home. One can hardly imagine a 
more awkward predicament than that of the 
unlucky Kafir whose private peccadilloes are the 
ruin of the entire community. 


Lunch being over, we had to prepare ourselves 
for our final march to the Transvaal, and our kind 
hosts rode with us a few miles to show us a short 
cut to the Buffalo river. We were all very much 
recruited by our three days' rest at Fort Amiel, 
and shall always retain a vivid recollection, 
not only of the handsome entertainment we re- 
ceived, but of the hearty good-will and genuine 


courtesy with which it was oflfered. People in our 
position are, perhaps, as well qualified as any to 
appreciate the difference between that style of 
entertainment which has a mere formal act of 
politeness for its object, and that genuine hospi- 
tality which has the real comfort of its guests at 

By nightfall we found ourselves actually in the 
Transvaal at last, and were quite astonished to 
find how much like the rest of the world all we 
could see of it seemed to be. 

We crossed the river in a sort of ferry-boat , 

and encamped on the Utrecht side for the night. 

The river was tolerably full, and the oxen had 

many struggles to get the wagons across. The 

ammunition wagon stuck for over an hour, 

although twentyreight oxen were tugging at it 



with all their might. Of course, the more oxen 
you put on, the more difficult it is to get them to 
pull all together. These struggled, and fought, 
and bellowed, and kicked over the chain, and broke 
loose, and played every conceivable kind of antic ; 
the drivers wading about in the water, and never 
ceasing to exhort them by name, with yells and 
bowlings, and to belabour them with their terrible 

It is easy, when you are on the spot, to 
realize the advantage the lightly equipped Kafir 
must have, in moving, over the heavily encumbered 
British soldier. It will be their own fault if they 
do not steal many a march upon us in the war 
that may be coming. 

Only one more day's march remained to be 
made, and on the 1st of April we found ourselves 
at Utrecht, where tents had been already pitched 
for us inside a sort of fortification, with walls 
round it, built by the Dutch — in fact, a laager. We 
married people respectively appropriated a comer, 
with the exception of the doctor's family, who 
remained outside, handsomely accommodated a la 
Jarlei/y in an ambulance wagon, and are in some 
respects better off than we are, all penned up in 
this pound. 


We were kindly invited by the officers of the 
80th regiment to lunch at the mess, and after- 
wards dined there. Perhaps it may amuse people 
to see how we fare in this part of the world, so I 
give the menUj which is very creditable for South 

Pea Soup. 

Salmon (potted, of course) and Cucumber. 

Sausages. Irish Stew. 

Mutton Cutlets. 

Boiled Mutton. Eoast Fowls. 

Plum-pudding. Rice-pudding. 

Savoury Omelet. 

Cheese. Fried Sprats. 

Stewed Peaches. Dessert, etc. 

After dinner a soldier was in attendance with 
a lantern, and we went stumbling over the ditches 
and trenches in the 80th camp to bed. 

Yesterday we spent most of the time in dis- 
posing of our small possessions to the greatest 
advantage, and in making the best of the poor 
accommodation that the laager aflfords. In one 
comer of the wall near our tents is a recess, which 

X has handily turned into a bath-room, by 

building up the wall in front, and he is going to 
roof it with the tall reeds that grow in a swamp 
behind the camp. 

After breakfast I went out to have a look at 


the town, of which, needless to say, we had heard 
very considerable things on the way up. I pro- 
ceeded to the entrance of the laager, and gazed 
at the outside world, chastened, it is true, by 
previous experience, but still with a certain 
amount of curiosity as to what our quarters for, 
probably, the next three or four months might be 
like. Twenty miles of desert, absolute desert, 
without a break — treeless, almost grassless, and 
covered with a regular eruption of huge ant-hills. 
This was what I saw. , Turning to the left, the 
same barren wilderness presented itself, with the 
flat-topped African hills standing like huge pyra- 
mids in the distance. Turning to the left again, 
with my back towards Newcastle, " Surely," I 
thought, " I must see something now." Still there 
was nothing but those dreary mountains drawing 
together at the head of the valley, and forming 
the barrier between us and Zululand. 

I began to wonder whether this town was of 
such Liliputian dimensions that I might possibly 
have overlooked it altogether ; but on going back 
into a sort of outer laager, where the prisoners are 
kept (the clanking of whose chains, by-the-byj 
has a most ghostly and eerie effect during the 


night watches), I beheld half a dozen thatched 
houses and a few corrugated iron stores, dotted 
about in a hollow to the north, with a swamp 
immediately behind, and the great dreary-looking 
hills rising in the rear. 

This, then, was Utrecht, than which there can 
be few more splendidly laid-out cities — on paper ! 
A nearer inspection introduced me to the market 
square, and a great many handsome streets at 
right angles to each other, with a stream of water 
running down the side of each, and foot-paths, all 
the better kept for being so very little walked 
upon. The only things wanted to make Utrecht 
a really fine town, are the houses and the in- 
habitants, and nothing but imagination is required 
to make it fully as handsome a city as the cele- 
brated Eden in "Martin Chuzzlewit." 

For those who only care for facts, nothing of 
Utrecht exists with the exception of a few white- 
washed cottages, standing in their little gardens, 
with their fig hedges and rows of standard peach 
trees before their doors, a frightful little Dutch 
church, two or three general stores, and several 
religiously preserved bare spaces, whereon wander 
a few geese, or cocks and hens, but which, to the 



prophetic eye of the true Utrechtians, are graced 
by the imposing market-house, town haU, and 
other noble edifices, which they descant upon to 
the very few strangers who pass, and, I believe, 
almost persuade themselves exist already in a 
mystical sort of way. There are said to be about 
two hundred and eighty white inhabitants, who 
are nearly all Dutch ; the troops would .probably 
add some six hundred to this number. 

There is nothing whatever to do, nothing to 
shoot, no fish to catch, and no one to see. Penal 
servitude at Portland or Dartmoor would be the 
wildest dissipation compared with being quartered 
here. The only thing possible is to take a daily 
walk to the store — which here answers the purpose 
of the famous Bath Cat and Fiddle — and ruin 
ourselves by buying, at perfectly ridiculous prices, 
articles that are within easy reach of any well? 
to-do cottager at home. Goods of all sorts are 
considerably dearer here than in Natal, as they 
still pay a heavy duty crossing the Buffalo. That 
this tax is an appreciable addition to the revenue, 
reflects no little credit on the store-keepers, for 
there is no custom-house at the river, and our 
grocer assured us that the returns were left in 


great measure to be made by the tradesmen them- 
selves, and smuggling is so perfectly easy that 
it is hardly even deserving of the name. 

However, there is nothing like a good 
plausible reason for screwing everything out of 
the helpless consumer. What would not some of 
our home tradesmen give for a pretext that would 
enable them to sell a painted tin basin for ten 
shillings, and common pipe-clay at ninepence a 
lump, — ^the men get it for twopence at home ! It 
makes one set great store by the meanest articles 
of household use, when one has to buy them so 
very dear ; — needles sixpence a packet, and these 
so evidently made up for exportation, that, on 
opening one, you are pretty sure to find one-half 
of the contents guiltless of points, and. the other 
destitute of eyes. We returned from our first 
expedition to the store, with our ideas on the 
subject of furniture considerably modified, and the 
possessors of a small jug, which tvas intrinsically 
worth about eightpence, but for which we here 
paid three and sixpence, and are prepared to value 
it accordingly. The fact is not that things are so 
dear, considering the expense of transport, but 
that money is so cheap, or rather that there is 



SO little demand for it, that it has no settled value 
at all. Those who can pay in kind, or exchange 
their goods with those of the sto:^keepers, pro- 
bably find living cheaper here than in most other 
parts of the colony ; but for people like ourselves, 
who have nothing but hard cash to offer, it is 
decidedly a nuisance that there seems to be no 
fixed standard of prices, but that a sovereign is 
worth twenty shillings in some places, sixteen in 
others, and not much more than twelve in some 
out-of-the-way districts — especially as we always 
seem to hit upon the places where the lowest 
value obtains. 




May 19. 

Life in the laager is remarkable for nothing so 
much as its wonderful monotony. There is so 
little friction from events, that day after day and 
week after week slip by unnoticed. It would 
take a Defoe to make the details of such an 
existence in the least readable. There is an un- 
speakable sameness, even in the climate ; day 
after day bright supshine, making the tents 
unbearable after nine o'clock. No one would 
believe how tired one can get of fine weather, and 
how one longs for a good downpour of rain, to 
wet the tents and give us something to do in 
moving all our things. One has not even the 
satisfaction of enjoying the comfortable bit of 
shade afforded by the " lean-to," which we have 


rigged up in a comer of the laager and covered 
with shawls and rugs, for a cold wind blows 
incessantly from the hills, and drives us back 
into the sunshine, which only a few minutes 
before seemed to be melting the very marrow in 
our bones. 

The extreme dryness of the air is, so they 
say, due to the proximity of the Kalahari Desert, 
and the result is so much electricity, that the 
least friction produces sparks from almost any 
woollen or hairy material. It was rather start- 
ling at first, on waking in the night, to draw up 
one's rug and find one's hand followed by a 
stream of brilliant sparks. But we soon got 
used to that, as also to the cracklings and corus- 
cations that accompanied the operation of brush- 
ing one's hair. 

We are told that we must expect some terrific 
thunderstorms by-and-by, and the laager, being 
built of iron-stone, which abounds in the neigh- 
bouring hills, is admirably calculated to attract 
the lightning, which they say plays round the 
walls during a storm. «• Six horses belonging to 
" Carrington's Horse," standing against the walls, 
were killed last year by a flash — a pleasant re- 


flection for us truly, seeing that our tents and 
their stables occupy much the same positions ! 

It would be unpardonable to inflict on any 
one all the details of our tediousness. Tlie 
chronicle of one day's doings will suffice to show 
how time crawls along in this sleepy hollow. 

Our day commences at about seven o'clock, 
when a hoarse, rasping cough, about three yards 
off, apprizes us that our domestic martyr is about 
to enter upon his arduous round of duties. A 
crackling of sticks is next heard proceeding from 
the kitchen, which is here represented by a pit 
and trench, situated, as I say, about three yards 
from where the head of my bed would be — if 
I had a bed, and if it had a head, which is 
supposing a good deal in this country. This 
crackling of thorns is usually accompanied by 
a soliloquy on the part of the martyr, or per- 
haps a conversation, carried on by means of 
shouts, with a fellow-sufferer in a distant corner 
of the laager, having for its theme the woes of 
the British soldier on foreign service, and the 
special and sleepless anxiety borne by the ser- 
vants who have an incapable set of fine ladies 
and gentlemen in charge. ('* To see to them " is 



the technical phrase by which we observe this 
state of things to be expressed.) 

At about eight o'clock a cup of tea makes its 
highly civilized appearance, and at nine we are 
fairly roasted out of our tent, and betake our- 
selves to the discussion of eggs and bacon in the 
unnaturally cold shade of the waU. At ten 

G goes to parade. Happy man, to have, 

at any rate, something that he is obliged to do ! 

For the next three hours I loaf about, in the 
generally vain attempt to find some sort of 
occupation. We have set up a poultry-yard, 
comprising six sturdy hens ; and one of the most 
important businesses of my life is to catch these 
birds and shut them up by turns, with the view 
of compelling them fo lay an ^g^j allowing a 
quarter of an hour for each. They have names, 
corresponding to those of the ladies'-maids, and 
seem to have a wonderfully clear understanding 
of their duty. Their lives may be said to hang 
upon a thread, and the first day in which one 
of them fails to fulfil her task is apt to prove 
fatal to her existence. 

Many of us keep a supply of hens, but cocks 
are abjured by common consent, as their crowing 


is obnoxious to the repose of the dwellers in the 
laager. We ourselves were misled at first into 
attempting to keep one of these nuisances, but 
as neither entreaties nor force availed to induce 
him to discontinue his monotonous reiterations, 
and as no amount of persuasion or of carriage- 
rugs could disabuse him of the notion that it 
was broad daylight at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and furthermore, as he was constantly mis- 
taking the "all's well" of the sentries for the 
challenges of his rivals, and acting accordingly, 
he made his appearance in a pie, after a brief 
but tumultuous career, since which time the peace 
of the laager has been unbroken, save by the 
pensive duckings of the widowed hens. 

Besides this amusement, there is generally a 
joint of meat maturing in our larder, which de- 
mands an immense amount of care and attention, 
and of pepper, and of blue gauze draperies, and 
of wiping with my own hands, and smelling 
with my own nose, before the critical moment 
is reached at which we can venture to cook it 
with some glimmer of hope that we may be 
able to make our teeth meet in One or two tender 
places here aiid there* But the tenderest soliei- 


tude cannot always guard against the buffets 
of an unkind destiny ; accidents will happen, as 
witness what befell a shoulder of mutton yester- 
day, upon which I have been expending nearly 
a week's forethought and cherishing, as if it had 
almost been part of my own person. 

" X ," said I, almost before we had done 

breakfast, " we shall have our shoulder for dinner 
to-day, and one of the officers is coming to help us 
to eat it." 

The words were not out of my mouth before I 
perceived a sort of saturnine smile dawning on 

the countenance of honest X , which prepared 

me by experience for the disclosure of some horrid 

" It's not much help you'll want, then," said 
X , leading the way into our larder, bath- 
room, hen-house, and general room of all work; 
" for it strikes me that somebody's been giving 
you that already." 

X 's manner and barely suppressed glee 

clearly betokened some domestic misfortune. 
Nevertheless, there it hung, my cherished joint, 
dangling in its blue bag at the end of a forked 
stick in the refreshing breeze. There, at least. 


dangled the bag, for, on a closer investigation, I 
was fain to cry alas! for my shoulder, with its 
comely proportions all destroyed! Great holes 
gnawed in every direction, and bone visible in the 
place of the meat upon which I had been ex- 
pending so much time and energy. 

" Rats ! " announced X , when I demanded 

an explanation of these appearances. " Rats, 
coming out of the wall and walking along the 
stick. I've wondered a many times that they had 
not done it afore. There's a terrible lot of rats in 
these parts, to be sure." 

" Why did you not tell me," I said, resentfully, 
" and not let me leave my mutton there ? I 
suppose we shall only have the soup for dinner 
now ? " 

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw 

another smile overspread but not relax X 's 

sinister features. A dreadful misgiving as to the 
total collapse of my dinner seized me. 

" Where is the soup ? " I cried, turning to the 
loophole in the wall, in which we are accustomed 
to keep such provisions for the sake of coolness. 

" Which hole did you put it in ? Where ? " 

. Captain Chose's dog at that moment hurried 



past with a conscience-stricken air that spoke 

" Yes, where ? " cried X , addressing him- 
self to the dog, and pointing his remarks with 
several loose stones out of the wall. " You know 
where, if anybody does, I bet. Where was your 
nose when I came into the laager at half-past six 
this morning ? Not in my soup-kettle, I suppose ? 
Oh, no ! If it hadn't 'a been that I was a'most 
done over like, with this lumbago, you wouldn't 
have got off so easy, I warrant. An old thief ye 
are ! Why, if you'll credit it, ma'am, that old dog, 

when I was servant to Captain Y Z , 

in 72 " 

"Never mind about '72 now," I ventured to 
say. " Will you tell me what we are to have for 
dinner ? There is nothing left, of course, but the 
cold pie ? " 

Nor was there much of that left either. 
To bring this dreary history to a finish. The 
white ants, during the night, had helped them- 
selves to the greater part of our stores ; and the 

paraffin, which X had used to get rid of them, 

had destroyed the remainder. Providentially, one 
of our old hens had incurred the punishment of 


the pot, SO that we were not left to go altogether 
dinnerless, though it may be imagined that our 
little party was postponed till a more favourable 

These little contretemps happen most days 
to one or other of us. If it were not for them 
we should have absolutely nothing to think 
of, and they give us something to laugh about 
when they are over. Lunch comes at one, but, 
unluckily, our appetites in this climate seldom 
admit of our eating more than a bit of bread and 
jam, and with the utmost good-will and jam 
ad Ub^ it is not given to many people to be able 
to prolong this amusement for more than a given 
time — say, half an hour at a stretch. 

Lunch over, we sit looking at each other all 
the afternoon, or toddle to the store, about five 
minutes' walk. Tea breaks the afternoon, either 
in our tent or a neighbour's ; then we look at each 
other again till dinner. A game of ecarte in a 
friendly tent sometimes finishes the evening, and 
we go to bed completely tired out with sheer 
ennui and unavoidable idleness. It is the most 
deplorable waste of life that can be imagined, and 
it is impossible to make occnpation of any kind. 



Those who can sleep half the day are fortunate. 
Some of ns pretend to ride, but, stuck down as we 
are in this kind of basin, all we can do is to ride 
up the sides of it and down again, and we can see 
all that there is to be seen for several miles in 
every direction without stirring a yard from our 
own tent doors. Eeading would be a resource if 
there were anything to read; but one never 
realizes how dependent one is for amusement upon 
books until one has exhausted every possible 
volume within reach, as is the case with all of us. 
We are now rapidly approaching the stage 
at which we shall be ready to devour what Lamb 
calls "impossible books " — ^books of the road, postal 
guides, and the like. Smollett's works are now 
going the rounds, and are read aloud to me with 
great spirit, though I think a more suitable book 
for the purpose might perhaps be found, if we 
had the power of making a selection. I have 
rather an incoherent idea of the plot, as hiatuses 
are of frequent occurrence during the lecture, 
when I am given to understand that passages not 
quite in accordance with modem taste are being 
skipped. Anything printed is Uterature here, 
and if this literary famine is to continue, the 


period at which we shall fall back upon the 
" impossible books," in the shape of old drill-books, 
defaulters' sheet^s, and the Queen's Eegulations, 
cannot be very far oflf. 

The social horizon does not, however, present 
a prospect of unrelieved gloom. Great things are 
said to be in store for us next week, in the way of 
rejoicings, which are to be held (for the first time, 
I believe, in the Transvaal) on the Queen's birth- 
day. And this is not all. Races — ^positively 
" Utrecht Races," in which the neighbours within 
a trifling radius of some thirty miles or so are 
expected to take part, will be held on the veldt 
just outside the laager. A portion of the desert, 
called by courtesy the race-course, has been duly 
measured out, and ploughed — ^yes, ploitghed, in 
anticipation of this event, and parties of civilians, 
aided by the soldiers, are engaged in putting up 
all sorts of insecure-looking structures, to accom- 
modate the beau monde of Utrecht and its 
environs, who, I am told, will assemble on the 
field in large and fashionable crowds. With 
regard to the personal attractions of the belles 
of Utrecht, none of us have much opportunity 
of forming an opinion, as they remain indoors 


during the heat of the day, and, if compelled ot 
go out, are generally muffled, chins and foreheads, 
in an Oriental-looking veil; but our excellent 
store-keeper has given us to understand that 
many of the toilettes to be displayed on the 
occasion of the races will be little short of 
the magnificent. Divers boxes, containing cos- 
tumes of the chastest, straight from Birmingham 
and Manchester, have, by a happy accident, just 
been added to his stock ; and as to the bonnets, 
I caught a glimpse of a gorgeous fabric one day, 
reposing in a card-board box, and we heard a 
whisper that several of the latest and most elegant 
confections of British manufacture will be to 
be seen airing on the heads of lovely Dutch 
ladies on the eventful day. In that hope we 



May 26. 

OxE great a;dvantage of the climate of South 
Africa is that in the dry season you can always 
be certain of the weather, even though you fix 
your outing for some day, weeks ahead. So it 
was with easy hearts on this score that we 
" turned in " on the eve of the Queen's birthday, 
a day that had been looked forward to by our 
little community — ^yes, and by the whole of 
Utrecht and the surrounding district — with an 
eagerness that showed only too plainly how dull 
and monotonous our lives are here. For was 
not there to be the usual " march past," without 
which no gala day where the British soldier con- 
gregates is complete? and was not the afternoon 
to decide the merits of many a horse on the race- 


course, at which a fatigue party had been busy 
for some weeks past ? The amount of work that 
had to be done in levelling ant-hills (hard as 
stone), filling up holes, and even breaking the 
surface of the ground with the plough, can be 
hardly realized ; but in the end a very fair course 
was marked out, about a mile in circumference. 
To see the horses take their gallops in the even- 
ing had been quite the fashionable amusement 
for some time past, and the amicable rivalry that 
existed between the town and the garrison was 
quite amusing ta witness. 

One of the officers had imported from New- 
castle a regulation six-stone jockey, and this lad, 
" got up " in orthodox breeches and gaiters, and 
looking like a little old man, was the source of 
much amusement to the heavy Dutchmen, many 
of whom had some horse entered for the " G[ar- 
rison Cup," or " Ladies' Purse," and who, I heard, 
were not at all averse to " backing their fancy," 
into the bargain. 

The 24th dawned with regular "Queen's 
weather," and by eleven o'clock the whole of the 
little garrison was drawn up under a blazing sun, 
to prove their loyalty by that surely somewhat 


senseless way of showing it — marcliing past. 
There was not a breath of wind, and the Union 
Jack at the saluting-point hung lazily from its 
pole. The Boers had turned out in considerable 
numbers, and watched the proceedings with an 
air of sulky indiflference. They did not attempt to 
join in the hearty cheers that were given for the 
Queen, nor perhaps could it be expected, consider- 
ing how cordially they detest England and the 

The little army, having thoroughly proved its 
loyalty, and having got terribly hot in so doing, 
returned to camp, to prepare for the amusements 
of the afternoon. The course was close to the 
camp, and, as I said, was very fairly laid out, 
considering the difficulties that had to be over- 
come. No doubt the fortunate possessor of a 
Derby favourite, or some such priceless racer, 
would have held up his hands in horror at the 
state of the ground, which, in spite of the fre- 
quent use of the plough, was terribly hard going ; 
but people out here are not apt to set much store 
by their horses, and nobody thought of not start- 
ing them on this account. Horses in this country 
generally go unshod, except for very rough work — 


they do better so. No doubt the very long price 
of shoeing is one great obstacle, and, as a rule, 
the workmanship is by no means equal to the 
sum demanded. The blacksmith at Utrecht asked 
fifteen shillings for shoeing my mare — ^no out-of- 
the-way charge either, I am told, but sufficient 
to induce me to follow the fashion of the country 
with regard to Kajii% who seems to have fallen 
into it very easily, so far as we can judge at 

But we are at the races, which have many 
excellent points and advantages, chiefly negative, 
to recommend them to the mere unprofessional 
sight-seer. Though the grand stand and paddock 
are perhaps hardly up to the mark of Ascot and 
Goodwood, the absence of the betting ring and of 
the din and uproar appertaiiing, more than com- 
pensates for any little shortcomings that there 
may be in the general appointments and accom- 
modation. All that is really necessary, from the 
"k'rect card" to comfortable seats and refresh- 
ments, is here provided in great abundance. 
What though there be not a single drag or 
barouche upon the ground, the majority of us 
ive never even heard that such vehicles exist; 


and all of us can make oui-selves as comfortalilo us 
can be desiired in the gi-eat ox-wagons ranged 
beside the course, with rows of chaira inside iiiul 
a tilt to keep off the sun. 

Looking down the course — witli the surgiug 
crowd of heads and hum of voices, now suppressed 
in a breathless jjausc, now bursting intci (^uitc a 
roar of excitement, as the hftrses and their jockeys, 
all of them well known to most of the spectators, 
come with a burst over the plough round the final 
corner — it is difficult to persuade one's self that we 
are indeed so many thousand miles away fi"om home. 
The gay dresses, wonderfully improved by dis- 
tance, dotting the gi-ass with spots of bnlliant 
colour (the Dutch ladies affect the brightest ixj«. 
Bible attire) ; the familiar shouts about the 01,]^ . 
the dog — positively the dog itself^requiring to be 
exorcised from the course at the last minatej ypjii 
the usual shouts and hostile demonstration^, an^' 
conclusively proving, by ita presence hei^, lij. :. 

[ inevitable appearance on such ( 

Icordance with some rigid bat i 
—would easily ka 



jackets, in some annual sports at Aldershot or 
some large garrison town. The intense heat of 
the sun as midday approaches would gradually 
waken one out of such dreams, and the grand 
race for Kafirs, that terminated the proceedings, 
could not fail to dispel the last vestiges of the 
dear illusion. 

This event had been looked forward to by all 
of us during the first and second day's races with 
the greatest interest, and for an hour or two 
before it came off little knots of Kafirs were 
assembling in front of the stand, their black, 
good-humoured faces expressing every degree of 
excitement and curiosity. 

The competitors, numbering some forty or 
fifty, were all drawn up in the paddock, and 
favoured us with a war-dance, which, I should 
think, could hardly have been the best preparation 
in the world for men about to contend in a race. 
For at least a quarter of an hour they kept up a 
steady succession of stampings, gruntings, and 
yells, while every now and then a champion 
rushed forth from the ranks, in the usual maimer, 
to display his agility by a pas seul of marvellous 
adroitness. Having relieved their feelings in a 


manner which could hardly have failed, one would 
think, to have taken a good deal out of them, the 
whole troop was marshalled to the starting-point 
by the landrost, or magistrate, who, speaking 
Kafir like a native, was well able to explain to 
them what they had to do, as well as to restrain 
the ardour of the more impetuous. 

After several breaks away, the whole band 
was despatched to a very fair start, and rushed 
down the course, a confused mass of black bodies, 
legs, and arms ; little parties of Kafir ladies — with 
their short, firizzy hair dyed and plastered up with 
red clay, in honour of the occasion — standing with 
their arms on each other's necks, showing their 
dazzling rows of teeth, delighted spectators of 
the scene. 

The distance being only two hundred yards, 
the whole mob was pretty well together all the 
way, and it could have been no easy matter to 
decide who breasted the tape first. However, the 
E^firs seemed quite satisfied with the decision of 
the judge when he awarded two brothers first and 
second prizes ; and, grinning from ear to ear, the 
athletes retired with ten and five shillings re- 
spectively, receiving the congratulations of their 


fellows as they went. Truly these Kafirs are 
very easily amused; and we are told, by those 
who have spent years in the study of their cha- 
racter, that, if taken in the right way, they are 
not otherwise than docile and easy to rule. 

The entertainment was now over, and as we 
strolled back to our tents, we felt with regret that 
this long-wished-for day was already numbered 
amongst the " have beens ; " and that the dull 
routine of our lives was once more about to 

In the evening a huge bonfire, composed of 
great logs of wood and whole mimosa bushes, 
which the soldiers had been all day piling up, was 
lighted on the outskirts of the camp, brilliantly 
illuminating the interior of the laager, and com- 
pelling those whose tents were in the vicinity of 
the fire to keep a sharp look-out upon the showers 
of sparks that fell from time to time upon the 
crisp, dry veldt. All were invited to the bonfire, 
and there was a great gathering of officers and 
men, with a row of chairs placed on the inside for 
the ladies, where we all sat rather at the mercy of 
the wind, which blew the flames about, scorching 
from time to time first one side of the group and 


then another, and looking horribly like the pictures 
of the inner circles of fire in the "Inferno." We kept 
up the revel till quite the small hours, while the 
soldiers enUvened us with songs, comic and senti- 
mental, and day had almost dawned before the 
last flicker of our fire, which was visible, I believe, 
from the hills for many a mile around, had died 

Eaces and bonfires are all veiy amusing in 
their way, and so quiet and monotonous have 
been our lives of late, that even these exceedingly 
mild gaieties gave us quite a dissipated feeling*. 
At the same time, we could not help feeling, and 
expressing as much to one another, that we had 
hardly come out to Africa with every prospect of 
remaining inactively in this dismal hole, for 
months to come, for the purpose of attending 
bonfires and races, however pleasant. As to 
fighting — of course, we do not know what under- 
currents there may be forcing it on in political 
circles, but the prospect of it, so far as the Kafirs 
themselves seem concerned, appears to grow more 
distant every day. 

From time to time messengers, in all the full 
glory of war-paint and feathers, come in from the 


great Cetewayo, to treat with the landrost 
respecting border questions, compensation for 
injuries done (or alleged to have been done) to 
border farms and the like, and we hear that there 
seems on their part to be a genuine willingness to 
accept such terms as they consider compatible 
with their honour and the integrity of their 
country. As to the formidable Cetewayo himself, 
his army may be, as is said, a standing menace to 
our border, but it is none the less certain that our 
little camp offers a standing temptation to that 
savage potentate, to which he would not scruple to 
yield, if he were but half as treacherous and blood- 
thirsty as his would-be enemies pretend. In spite 
of Exeter Hall and Bishop Colenso, it would, of 
course, be voted absurd to imbecility to talk of the 
good faith of a savage, but it proves at least that 
Cetewayo is not anxious to precipitate a war, that 
we are able to rest in such perfect security, not 
much more than thirty miles from the border of 
Zululand. Our Httle garrison barely numbers six 
hundred all told, and the Zulus, we hear, mass 
themselves in such immense numbers, and assemble 
so rapidly at a given point, that if Cetewayo 
were to be seized with the desire to march about 


twenty thousand of his picked warrioi-s upon om- 
completely exposed camp some night (which, they 
say, he would be well able to do), I am afraid 
that, however gallant our defence might be, there 
would be very few of ms left to tell the tale in the 





June 2. 

The wild gaiety of last week being now un- 
happily a thing of the past, we have returned to 
our social torpor, and dissipation of all sorts may 
be considered beyond the reach of the dweller in 
Utrecht for another year at least. He can drink, 
it is true, any description of liquor (nominally), 
from champagne to bottled beer, at fabulous prices, 
provided he likes to pay for it — ^and even this is a 
solace denied to the inhabitants of some of these 
out-of-the-way villages. A friend who has been 
quartered at Kokstadt assures us that, during 
the few months he has been there, although there 
are two or three stores, nothing in the shape of 
intoxicating liquor is to be bought in the whole 
place. It was a gala day for Kokstadt, when a 


ship, having gone ashore on the coast some miles 

off, a whole cargo of spirits was brought up by 

wagons to the town, and I can easily believe 

that both soldiers and civilians were " on spree " 

for at least three days after. 

Bnt when a soldier has to pay eightpence for 

his pint of beer, he is apt to look abont him for 

some description of beverage that will go a little 

further for the money ; and he is well advised if, 

in spite of the embargo which is laid upon it, he 

does not betake himself to the consumption of 

the white brandy which is sold under the name 

of " Cape smoke." This abomination, which is 

adulterated — some say, chiefly compoimded of 

paraflSn — is a poison calculated to burn the inside 

out of a rhinoceros ; and only a short time ago 

two of the men died from drinking it within 

twenty-four hours of each other ! 

The Kafirs are said to be able to drink these 

very ardent spirits with comparative impunity, 

but if a white man drinks them to intoxication, 

he runs a poor chance of ever regaining his sober 

senses in this world ; and in the case of the last 

unfortunate victim, though every conceivable 

eflfort was made to save him, violent inflammation, 



followed by congestion, set in, and he died after 
twenty-four hours' sufferings, which the doctor 
describes as appalling to witness. 

Since that terrible warning, a perfect change 
has come o'er the camp ; even the social " tot " of 
rum is neglected by the soldier, and there is such 
a run upon the mildly invigorating ginger beer, 
as to prove to the astonished canteen-sergeant that 
teetotalism is for the moment in the ascendant. 

But, although dissipation is not to be had at 
Utrecht, visiting of the very mildest and most 
domestic kind is within the reach of those of us 
who care to indulge in it, as I discovered to my 
cost, in the course of a conversation with our 
excellent grocer and pork-butcher, the other day. 
Anxious to escape, with all possible politeness, the 
necessity of purchasing an unusually atrocious 
outrage upon the fashions of last year s gowns, I 
said, with what I now realize to have been a 
mendacity richly meriting punishment^ — 

** Surely, Mr. A B , it would be an 

absolute sin to wear such an imcommonly fine 
gown here, where there is no one to see it ? " 

"Ah! you do not consider u^ anybody, I 
mow," responded honest A B , whom, 


I was horrified to see, conceived himself wounded 

in an especially tender point. ^^ Mrs. A B 

had promised herself the pleasure of calling at 
your tents, but I always told her you English 
ladies are so proud, that she had better not 

At this moment, sitting all alone in my own 
tent, I protest I blush up to my eyes when I 

recollect this speech of poor A B ; and 

a blush is only another name for apoplexy in this 

" Oh, Mr. A B ," I cried, summoning to 

my aid that graceful savoir-faire^ of which the true 
Briton has always a stock in reserve for similar 
dilemmas, "pride has nothing to do with it. 
Quite absurd, of course. I'm sure we should all 

be charmed. So very nice to see Mrs. A 

B . But," — driven to distraction by the 

bitter smile with which our aggrieved stores-man 
whipped a couple of his best gowns off the 
counter, and shut up a gorgeous bonnet with a 
smack like a Jack-in-the-box — "I never thought 
— did not expect, I mean — that is, things are so 

different in different countries" — (A B 

is a Dutchman) — " and at home it is, as you say, 


not the custom. Nothing could be nicer, as you 
say; but still it is not the custom." And for 
the life of me, I could think of nothing better 
than to go on repeating this phrase over and over 
again, while I felt myself to be rapidly, and I 
believe visibly, dissolving before the eyes of the 
incensed— but, I vow, unjustly incensed— grocer, 
till there was nothing left for me but to retire to 
my tent, cloaked and covered with confusion. 

Since then, several days have elapsed, and I 
have been gradually cooling, like an extinct 
volcano ; but I have recognized the necessity of 
transferring our insignificant custom to the store 

of C D , over the way ; and the apparition 

of Mrs. A B , in the bonnet (I should 

know it amongst a thousand), in opposite comers 
of the laager, has brought home to me the fact 
that the doors of Utrecht society are closed, by 
my unlucky inadvertence, against me, and me 
only, for ever. 

But though this deplorable slip has placed us 
out of the pale of society in Utrecht proper, my 
husband and I have made the acquaintance of one 
of the farmers in the neighbourhood ; and it was 
not without curiosity that I paid my first visit to 


his house, as I wished to see for myself what the 
minage of a Dutch Boer was really like. 

Not that good Mr. Smutz called himself a 
Boer ; for some reason or other, he declined the 
aj^llation — whether because he thought it stank 
at the present time in English nostrils, or for some 
less unpatriotic reason, I do not know. 

"I Dopper," he would say, when questioned 
as to his dignities and titles. " Plenty money I. 
Old Smutz buy up any one of you ; buy up the 
whole lot of you. Come and see me one of these 
days. One come; all come over to my little 
place, and see old Smutz." 

It would have been impossible to have refused 
an invitation given with so much grace and 
cordiality ; and, as a matter of course, the officers 
of both regiments spent many a spare afternoon 
at old Smutz's homestead, discussing politics — 
i.e. the all-absorbing theme of annexation — with 
the worthy Dopper, and partaking of the eminently 
(to a stranger) nauseating " square-all," tempered 
with aniseed, which is the favourite beverage of 
the Boers. Dopper Smutz having extended his 
hospitality to me in no less gracious a manner, 
it was arranged that I should "go over to his 


little place, and make acquaintance with the 
vrouw," though, as I was given to understand 
that she could speak no English, and as the only- 
Dutch word I could speak, or even knew the 
meaning of, was mitterseele^ which signifies 
"parsley," there did not seem much prospect of 
improving the acquaintance beyond the point 
when it could be carried on by nods and becks 
and wreathed smiles. 

Dopper Smutz's little place lay under a hill 
some eight miles to the west of Utrecht, and is a 
very good example of a well-to-do Dutch farm, the 
well-to-doness being evidenced by a whole army 
of idle, grinning Kafir men and women, who stand 
staring and exhibiting their white teeth, without a 
thought of offering their services, when you ride 
up and dismount at the door. At the threshold 
you are usually met by the Dopper himself. If 
he is not at home, you must walk in and salute 
the lady of the house, who will probably be foimd 
within, watching your arrival from her seat on 
a comer of the sofa. She holds out her hand, 
but does not get up as you enter, and this con- 
duct probably gives rise to a surmise on your 
part, that either she has no legs, like the Queen 


of Spain, or has lost the use of them — unless 
you are acquainted with the fact that Dutch 
etiquette requires that she should keep her seat 
till the proper ceremonies of introduction and 
hand-shaking have been performed. 

These happily over, our hostess recovers her 
powers of locomotion rapidly enough, and bustles 
about with an alacrity that is pretty sure to 
astonish .the European visitor — seeing that the 
good lady is seldom known to attain a weight 
much under twelve stone, with a waist circum- 
ference of some thii'ty-six inches —setting before 
the guest cake, of which there always seems to be 
one newly smoking from the oven, and coffee, so 
inscrutably sickly and sweet that, after tasting it, 
one feels that the good lady's embonpoint is half 
accounted for already. In a Dutch house — ^the 
part of it, that is, in which the visitor is received 
— everything is so smart and bright, so preter- 
naturally spick and span, that you feel as if you 
had made some mistake, and squeezed yourself 
into a doll's house. 

At Dopper Smutz's, the walls were pink, the 
door was blue, and there were ornamentations all 
about, of indescribable patterns and hues. There 


were resplendent chairs, on which it was obvious 
that no one but company ever sat, books that 
were never opened, glittering fire-irons that were 
never used unless it was to poke the garlands of 
greenery in the grate, and a musical box on the 
table, which boasted of three tunes, one being 
" Home, Sweet Home,'* which the worthy Dopper 
religiously wound up, and kept in play during 
the whole of the visit, with a hazy impression, 
I believe, that he was thereby paying us a sort 
of delicate national compliment. 

Conversation in a Dutch homestead (when it 
is capable of being carried on at all), turns, as 
in most countries between the ladies, mainly on 
household and domestic matters. It would be a 
grave breach of decorum should the visitor omit 
to inquire after the junior branches of the family, 
as particularly as she is qualified to do by pre- 
vious acquaintance. If there is no acquaintance, a 
vague question as to the well-being of the family 
is admissible, and in using the word "family** 
it is well to make it as plural as possible, for 
there is pretty sure to be a perfect forest of olive 
branches gathered round the good lady*s table. 
A round dozen of young Boers is rather under 


than over the fashionable number, less than five 
or six constituting quite a curiously small family, 
in fact, almost a " disappointment." 

While these confidences are being exchanged 
between the ladies, the gentlemen contrive to 
engage the host in a discussion on political affairs 
— ^no easy matter with the wary Boer ; in fact, a 
simply impossible matter, when the Boer is such 
a supremely wary one as our friend Smutz, who, 
when the discourse verges on topics that are apt 
to call forth opinions in the least compromising, 
takes refuge in a sudden inability to comprehend 
the language, and refuses, with stolid perseve- 
rance, to understand the very words that a moment 
ago were coming so trippingly oif his own proper 

" You would know what I tink ? " he will say, 
shaking his great heavy head, and frowning, till 
his red little pig's eyes disappear into twinkling 
points of light. " Ah, but I have not de lan- 
guage. Have one more leetle glass of square-all, 
gentlemen. I support de Boers in a rising, re- 
bellion — ^how do you call it? You see, I speak 
so vera, vera leetle English, and Mrs. Smutz, she 
speak it not at all." 


This was tlie truth ; but Mrs. Smutz possessed 
a daughter, who had spent some months, I sup- 
pose, in " the city," at a boarding school which 
had turned her out after a pattern wonderfully 
resembling that frequently seen at home. By 
her aid in interpretation, Mrs. Smutz and I were 
enabled to exchange ideas on the scarcity of 
butter, and the correct number of eggs in a 
cake ; and at the end of half an hour we ad- 
journed to the garden, where, by dint of pointing 
and making signs, I was able to purchase as 
many vegetables as set us up in that line for a 
week at least. 

The good Dopper could, with diflSculty, be 
prevailed upon to accept more than a mere 
nominal price for his cabbages, assuring us that 
he was a rich man, and could buy us all up, and 
had no wish to make money out of us. Oranges 
were brought in, gathered from the trees outside, 
and after we had eaten as many as we could, and 
stuflFed our pockets with the remainder, water was 
brought to us to wash our fingers in a lovely 
china bowl. 

The same ceremonies were observed on our 
departure, as before ; the vrouw, however, ex- 


tending her hand with a certain hesitation, which 
cansed me to suspect that a somewhat warmer 
method of leave-taking is in vogue amongst the 
^ite in these parts. The etiquette of Dutch 
houses is, I am told, extremely strict, but, of 
course, any little oversights on our part are ex- 
cused on the ground of our being foreigners. 
Mrs. Smutz did her best to set us straight on 
many little points, and, on my turning to shake 
hands with her at taking leave, motioned me fo^st 
towards the Dopper, with an air that clearly 
showed that no amount of consideration for the 
ignorance of a stranger to Boer etiquette could 
induce her to take precedence of her husband on 
such an occasion. 

Five minutes more, and we are being helped 
on to our horses by the now zealous and bust- 
ling Kafir " boys " (a Kafir is a boy here, even 
though he may have attained to patriarchal years 
and dignities). 

" Come soon," ejaculates Mrs. Smutz, insti- 
gated to this eflfort by the daughter, who, I 
believe, persuades her that she is saying good- 
bye; and by the time the Dopper has ceased 
his cheerful assurances that he is a rich man, 


"plenty oxen, lots of money," the snug home- 
stead, with its formal garden, and grove of 
orange trees planted in such a precise Dutch 
fashion, that they look hardly more picturesque 
than so many rows of raspberry bushes, is fast 
fading under the shadow of the hill. 




June 21. 

Moralizing, for the want of anything else to do, 
is largely indulged in by the inmates of the 
laager; and amongst many others equally valuable, 
Ave often make the reflection, that for a thorough 
cure of the most inveterate laziness, nothing more 
would be required than a few weeks of the 
enforced idleness under which we yawn our heads 
off here. Persons whose profession it is to find 
sermons in stones, and to adorn tales with morals, 
might be moved to utter many pungent and 
stirring sentiments, could they be privileged to 
behold the spectacle of six or eight rational 
beings, with their whole attention concentrated 
on bringing to the highest perfection the Mephis- 
tophelian art of killing time. But, earnestly as 


we all slave at this most exhausting of all hard 
labours, it cannot be said that we have made any 
very striking advances at present. 

To sit all day, blankly staring at the hills 
through whirling clouds of dust; watching the 
miniature cyclones as they waltz across the veldt, 
picking up sticks and paper as they go, and 
making a perfectly absurd amount of noise ; or 
counting the onions Mrs. Chose, or Mrs. Number 
Three or Four, may be putting into her soup in 
the corner opposite, has such a soothing eflfect 
upon the brain, that some of us are enabled to 
enjoy several hours' sound sleep in the afternoons ; 
by which means a large portion of the weary day 
is healthfully and completely destroyed. Those 
who are not so fortunate are being rapidly driven 
to despair by the utter failure of every attempt 
to dissipate the enmii that— and I protest, for no 
fault of our own — is threatening to smother us 
like a wet blanket. 

Cooking — when eggs are not procurable, 
butter a thing of the past, and let us hope, future ; 
sugar, only to be distinguished from the sur- 
rounding sand by the paper that it is wrapped in ; 
and vegetables represented by a block of some 


sort of conglomeration, chiefly garlic, which you 
must cut with a hatchet — is so entirely divested of 
all that makes it interesting, that we are only too 

willing to turn over to X and his compeers 

the stewing of our tough beef and frying of our 
mutton chops. In consequence of the more than 
scarcity of milk, eggs, and butter, there has been 
a great run upon suet-puddings of all descriptions ; 
and Mrs. Beeton has been in such request to 
furnish suggestions for varying these dull dump- 
lings, that I really am thinking of having her 
chained to the tent-pole, as they used to chain 
the Bibles to the desks in days of yore ; I'm sure 
I could turn many an honest (?) penny, by selling 
copies of some of the most approved recipes — I do 
not believe there is another cookery book in the 
whole place. 

The very passable fare that we do manage, 
by taking a good deal of trouble, to obtain here, 
seems to throw into stronger relief than ever the 
miserable incapacity and negligence of English 
cooks. There is hardly a cottage at home — in 
fact, there is no cottage, that can boast of anything 
in the shape of a grate, that does not possess 
means of preparing a comfortable dinner, far 


beyond anything that we can attain to with our 
holes and trenches in the ground, and our 
three-legged iron pot. The words of the Prodi- 
gal Son, " How many hired servants of my 
fether's," etc., are often in our minds, as we are 
baffled in one attempt after another to concoct 
some tolerably appetizing little dish, by the total 
impossibility of getting materials. I have eaten 
many a roly-poly, in establishments where a staff 
of kitchen-maids is kept, far inferior to those I 
manufacture here, rolling out the paste on a dish 
with the pickle bottle, and kneeling on the ground 
to make it, for lack of a kitchen table. 

The vivid contrasts which are to be drawn 
between our condition and that of the spoiled 
domestics at home, affords many of the servants 
here, and notably X , a sort of bitter con- 
solation, and he is never tired of dilating upon 
this theme. 

" I doubt, ma'am," he will say to me, at times 
when the wind causes our rdt to be taken up — 
a cinder on one side and raw on the other — or 
when a sudden cloud of sand compels us to pour 
out our soup for a libation upon the ground, 
instead of eating it — " I doubt it would do some 


of them fine cooks at home a power of good, 
if they had to send up a dinner, and only our 
conveniences to cook it with." 

" And it would do no harm to some of their 
masters and mistresses if they had to eat it after- 
wards," I generally make answer. " And eat 
it too with a three-pronged steel fork, like those 
we use here every day of our lives." (Nobody 
knows how diflScult it is to eat with a steel fork 
until he has tried. The way in which we stabbed 
our cheeks, and the bad shots we made at our 
mouths, on first attempting it, are things never 
to be forgotten.) " There is not a beggar in Eng- 
land," I generally conclude, when sufficiently 
warmed to the subject, " who is not a thousand 
times better off than we. For if the worst comes 
to the worst with him, he has always a com- 
fortable workhouse to go to." 

"Yes," rejoins X , "and a good bed 

and sheets to sleep in when he gets there" — 
sheets being at this moment to most of us a 
type of almost Babylonish luxury and indulgence. 

It is but within the last few weeks that, having 

bought a bedstead for the sum of five shillings, 

I ventured, almost with conscientious misgivings, 



to bring to light a pair of these (at home con- 
sidered) indispensable articles; and there are 
plenty of men up here who have not slept in 
a bed for between two and three years. I do 
not believe that any amomit of experience would 
enable me to conquer my excessive dislike to 
sleeping on the ground, and I took to my five- 
shilling bed when I had a chance, with such a 
perfectly rapturous sense of enjoyment (even 
though it was in such a rickety state that it 
could only be approached with much caution 
and many creaks), that it was quite difficult to 
persuade myself that there was not something 
wrong and wickedly self-indulgent in having it. 

Cooking, as one of the fine art43, being alto- 
gether impracticable in the laager, the natural 
instincts of the British matron would lead her 
to fall back upon needlework for an occupa- 
tion. But here the selfsame obstecle at once 
opposes itself, viz., the impossibility of buying 
even a yard of respectable calico, and the ridicu- 
lous prices of such materials as are to be had. 
It is quite enough to keep your clothes in repair 
when you have to give one sixpence for a reel 
of cotton, and another for a packet of needles,. 


half eyeless, half pointless, and all rusty, and with 
no emery powder come-at-able nearer than " the 

In the complete despair to which such a con- 
dition of things had reduced us, it was proposed 
a short time ago by some one, more reckless than 
the rest, to undertake a picnic to some waterfalls 
about six miles from here — as if we ever did any- 
thing else than picnic every day of our lives in 
Utrecht, and as if we could have appreciated any 
other picnic than that which could be enjoyed 
with our feet under the polished mahogany, 
and a French roll and a silver fork in our 
hands. Nevertheless, a picnic was proposed, 
and we all took part in it, and set out 
on the expedition — a strong party of fourteen, 
mounted on all the screws, ponies, and old artil- 
lery horses that could by any means be pressed 
into the service. The civil element was repre- 
sented by Mr. Henrique Shepstone, whose two tents 
had been for some days pitched in the village, 
and whose amusing descriptions of his travels 
in England, and impressions of life in "the 
Island," helped us to forget the exhausting heat 
and fatigue, which are the most salient points of 
a day's " pleasuring " out here. 


Our lunch was taken out in the mule-wagon, 
and was eaten by the side of a stream under the 
mimosa trees, amidst all the discomforts proper 
to similar occasions. 

The meal over, those of us who had still 
energy or spirits to spare, set off up-stream in 
search of ferns, and a couple of irrepressibles, 
of whom my husband was one, shouldered their 
guns, and climbed a neighbouring hill, from the 
top of which we could hear an old baboon de- 
fying us with his short, hoarse barks. For my 
part, I was well contented to sit by the side of 
the ^* spruit," and listen to the interesting account 
given by Mr. Shepstone of a tour he had recently 
made amongst the Boers, on business connected 
with the settlement of the boundary question. 

From what he told us, the customs of these 
good people would seem to be the most primitive 
possible, and they are so perfectly accustomed to 
travelling about in wagons, with whole families 
crowded together, a la NoaKs ark^ that the utmost 
freedom and sociability obtains ; and the idea that 
it would be possible to intrude at any time upon 
the privacy of a guest, could no more be knocked 
into their heads than it could into that of Paul 


It was most laughable to hear the description 
of the suflTerings of a shy fellow-traveller (who was 
unacquainted with the customs of the Transvaal), 
under the too polite attentions of his hosts ; those 
of the lovely young Boeresses especially. The 
quite Oriental fashion of washing the feet of the 
guests, which he was required to submit to in one 
Dutch farmhouse, almost annihilated the modest 
self-possession of this poor gentleman, and his 
confusion was increased by the attentions which 
the daughters of the house insisted upon showing 
him when the moment arrived for retiring for the 
night. But. the extremest limit of his powers of 
endurance was overpassed when, next morning, 
before he had risen from his bed, two or three 
beautiful damsels strolled carelessly into his room, 
their toilettes in various stages of incompleteness, 
and began to arrange their hair in front of the 
only piece of looking-glass which happened to be 
in the house. At this spectacle, the guest is said 
to have been perfectly paralyzed by a complete 
agony of shyness, and when an opportunity 
arrived, he made his escape from the too hospitable 
house, and insisted on remaining perdu in the 
wagon during the remainder of the visit. 


From what we can gather from other sources, 
it would seem that the habits of the Boers appear 
to the very greatest disadvantage when contrasted 
with those of the scrupulously clean and (by com- 
parison) refined Zulu Kafirs. With the exception 
of the reception-room, and perhaps the guest- 
chamber, dirt of the most revolting description is 
but too apt to form the most salient feature of a 
Dutch farm in the Transvaal ; and from personal 
experience, I can testify that in many instances 
the habits of the inmates are a fit match for the 
untidiness and horribly filthy state of these 


All pleasant days come to an end, and so do 
all tedious ones at last ; and, but for the regret we 
felt at the termination of so much interesting dis- 
course, I think we hailed with resignation the 
arrival of the hour fixed for the ride home, and 
were really almost pleased when we saw the low 
wall of the laager rising out of the veldt, and 
realized that our spasmodic attempt to spend " a 
appy day " was already a thing of the past. 



Berghers* Pasa, 

July 4. 

Wb are now in the beginning of winter, and are 
suffering from a degree of cold that I, in my 
ignorance, never dreamed of experiencing in South 
Africa* The nights are becoming most severe ; 
and in the morning one has to break the ice that 
has formed in our buckets during the night. Tents 
not being precisely calculated for extreme weather 
of either kind, we set to work with bricks and 
mortar to build a wall about eighteen inches high, 
in the inside circumference of the tent, with a fire- 
place and chimney, and hoped to be able to forget, 
in looking at the cheerful face of a coal fire, that 
there was nothing but canvas between us and the 
frost. The pole of the tent being raised, the flap 
hung over the wall, thus enabling us to gain con- 


siderably in interior space, while at the same time 
keeping out the draughts and cold. The chimney, 
being carried along the ground, rose almost to the 
level of the top of the tent, and had a very im- 
portant and homelike appearance, though perhaps, 
in the matter of carrying off the smoke, it was not 
quite all that could be desired. This brilliant 
idea (and for those whose fate it is to be dwellers 
under canvas in variable climates, it is a wrinkle 
well worth knowing) originated with the 13th 
Light Infantry, who are quartered at Pretoria, 
and was expounded to us by one of them, who was 
dining with us in our then comfortless tent a 
short time ago. My husband and I were the first 
to be seized with the building fever, which has 
since proved as contagious as it is wont to be in 
more advanced countries, and walls and founda- 
tions, and even quite Norman-looking round 
towers, with droll little windows about a foot 
square, are to be seen rising like mushrooms in 
every corner of the laager. 

Coal of a very fair quality is plentiful in the 
neighbouring hills, and is to be had for nothing 
except the trouble of fetching it. It lies close to 
the surface, and can be easily extracted with a 


pick and spade. The mineral wealth of this place, 
in the shape of iron, lies, as it does with us, in 
a compact space with coal. Labour (and the Kafir 
is a powerful labourer when sharply looked after) 
could be had for the hiring; and with capital, 
British energy, and improved communication with 
the coast, it would be impossible to form any esti- 
mate of the extent to which the magnificent 
resources of the country might be developed. 

The climate as at present existing is utterly 
inimical to agricultural enterprise, in spite of the 
flowery advertisements in the home papers of 
farms in the Transvaal, with any amount of square 
miles attached to them, of virgin soil. The soil 
is sand; there are no preparations for facing the 
droughts, which last, as is the case at the present 
moment, for a couple of years at a time ; and the 
hot wind from the desert, with the showers of 
parching sand that come with it, literally scorch 
the struggling attempts at vegetation as if they 
had been exposed to the blast of a hot oven. 

The future of the Transvaal lies in its mineral 
deposits, and when the day arrives which shall 
see South Africa feeding the ships that fill her 
ports with coal drawn from the vast stores, now 


hidden in the virgin bosom of her hills, the whole 
country will start into activity, and will shake oflF 
the drowsy languor under which it seems at 
present to lie dreaming. 

The Zulu Kafir, too, is clearly the possessor of 
capabilities which distinguish him from all other 
races of his black brethren. He has characteristics 
and stamina which are entirely peculiar to himself, 
and which are not to be found either in the 
indolent Asiatic, or the frivolous and shallow 
typical African nigger. The bracing cold of his 
hilly districts has a markedly invigorating effect 
upon his powerful frame, and while he is con- 
fessedly far superior to the white man in physique, 
he is not far behind him in the intellectual ex- 
pression of his countenance, or the capacity of his 
well-shaped head. The E^afir is an apt linguist, 
and there are but few amongst those who are 
brought into contact with the whites who cannot 
in a few months make themselves readily under- 
stood both in Dutch and English. Besides these 
characteristics, the Zulu possesses a natural pride 
and dignity (for which those who have never 
seen him hardly give him sufficient credit) — 
peculiarities which may help to account in no 


slight degree for the unfortunate reluctance of 
the Zulu king to submit to foreign dictation in 
the management of his home and domestic policy. 

I have now, if possible, more idle time on my 
hands than ever, and it ought, I really think, to 
serve as an excuse for any amount of additional 

Yesterday my husband and I shifted our 
quarters again, and are now perched in a sort of 
eagle's nest half-way up one of the hills about 

seven miles to the east of Utrecht. Gr has 

been sent out to relieve one of the captains who 
has been here for the last ten days, making a road 
over which the troops may one day go into Zulu- 
land. We had not more than an hour or two's 
notice to put together our few traps, cooking 
things, and tents, which were bundled off on the 
mule-wagon belonging to the 80th regiment, while 
I followed, being escorted by some of the officers, 
later in the afternoon. 

The road to be made, or rather improved 
upon, goes almost perpendicularly up the face 
of the mountain, where the men are at work 
getting out big rocks, and making it as smooth as 
is possible considering the rough implements they 


have to use. It is rather slow work, as they have 
no blasting-powder, and the great stones have to 
be hacked and hammered underneath and prized 
up with crowbars and planks, and my husband is 
obliged to be with them all day superinticnding. 

This is certainly one of the most lovely spots 
I have ever seen. Our couple of tents are pitched 
on a platform half-way up one of the hills, where 
we are protected from the full force of the wind, 
and have splendid shade (such a treat ! ) from the 
mimosa trees, which here attain the size of acacia 
trees at home. The view from our tents is really 
grand, and the air has a delicious freshness, quite 
champagny^ about it, like a sea-side breeze at home. 
From beneath the branches of the mimosa, where 
we take our meals, we have a glorious view right 
away to the mountains behind Newcastle, and all 
the plain between, with Utrecht and the two 
camps (ours and the 80th) lying broiling in the 
sun, and the road winding like a white clue in a 
maze in and out amongst the bush, so that in this 
clear atmosphere we can see visitors approaching 

three or four miles off. These headless African 
hills, with their strange pyramidal outlines, have 
a boldness and even grandeur peculiarly their 


own ; and the rich bush, which here clothes them 
to the summit, imparts deliciously tender depths 
and shadows, which take ofiF from that wild, 
desolate look that is so marked a feature of the 

Nothing strikes us so forcibly here as the 
silence — the total absence of all that hum of dis- 
tant life that it is almost impossible to escape from 
at home. It is always Sunday, . and more than 
Sunday, here. The stillness is unbroken save by 
the feeble chirping of the birds, the screech of the 
Kafirs as they call to one another from the hills, 
and the hoarse bark of the baboons in the woods. 

Those said baboons are a source of the liveliest 

uneasiness to Mr. X , who is certain that he 

has heard authentic accounts of their assembling 
in troops and attacking a camp by night ; and as 

our particular camp only consists of X 's 

tent and his master's (the company's tents being 
pitched right out of sight and hearing, round a 
shoulder of the hill), he is very properly per-* 
suaded that we should stand a poor chance against 
the onslaught of a few regiments of them ! The 
celerity with which these savage brutes scuttle 
away and hide in the bush on the first symptoms 


of pursuit is, of course, only a proof of their 
extraordinary cunning ; and once " attackted *' by 
thera (which is not a much more improbable sup- 
position than the children's ideas about putting 

salt on birds' tails), according to X , brandy 

won't save you, seeing that you are in the clasp 
of a creature which can give you a hug equal to 
that of an octopus or a gorilla, and which is 
goodness knows how many feet high. Such a 
danger impending, naturally calls for unceasing 
vigilance on the part of our trusty henchman, who 
goes to bed regularly with his loaded rifle by his 
side, and informs me that he has not closed an eye 
for I should be afraid to say how many nights past, 

X and I spend many hours together 

alone in our little camp ; but if I were the most 
timid lady breathing, I could not feel a shadow of 
nervousness with such a doughty champion at 
hand. Only two days ago, when I was trying to 
sketch the breast-high wall and arrangement of 
stones and sticks called by courtesy our kitchen, 

I beheld X , after listening and looking all 

round for a moment, suddenly drop the spoon 
with which he was perfecting some culinary ex- 
periment, and hurry into his tent at " the double/' 


lumbago and sciatica notwithstanding; and on 
hastening to him, I found him ramming a charge 
into his rifle with a sort of " do or die " expression 
contracting his saturnine features, which at once 
prepared me for the worst. 

" Heavens, X ! " I cried, " what is going 

to happen now ? Is it the Zulus come at last ? " 

" It's not the Zulus, ma'am, but it's one of them 

great big * bahboos ' " (for so X calls them) 

"creeping about up there among the rocks. I 
see him hiding himself plain enough, but if so be 
as he should come within range " (the rocks being 
about a hundred yards oflf, but no matter!) " I'll 
have a shot at him, dashed if I don't ! They tell 
me as them great beasts get terrible fierce and 
savage if they be attackted, but I'd like to have 
a shot at him if he comes here, anyhow ! " And 

X buttoned up his countenance in a fashion 

that showed me he was resolved to sell his life 
dearly, at any rate. 

" You are right," I answered with correspond- 
ing firmness ; " but what do you think of the 
bayonet, if he should come to close quarters? 
Who knows what may happen ? Then there is 
the ammunition. I suppose you are not particular 


to a round or two ? On second thoughts, had 
you not better take the revolver ? " 

" As to the ammunition, ma'am," said X 

(and I could not but fancy I detected a gleam of 
humour on his sardonic countenance), " when it's 
used in the defence of my life, they can't say 
nothing to me! and when we have got the rifle 
handy, I don't think they revolvers is much good 
when you really want to hit anything." 

This appeared to be the opinion the old 
baboon entertained with regard to rifles, for he 
very leisurely climbed up the rocks and over the 
edge of the hill, uttering a few short barks as he 

vanished, and X had to return very hot and 

breathless from his scramble over the stones, 
without ever having been able to furnish me with 
a proof of his skill as a marksman, though on the 
score of his valour I could not fail to be amply 

Most of our hairbreadth adventures and 
escapes ended similarly in smoke — at least, not in 
smoke, for few of them got as far as that, 

but in the loading of X 's rifle ; and as the 

revolver was always hanging to the tent-pole 
ready for action, I was kept in such a state of 


apprehension that I had hardly any terrors to 
spare for the arrival of the baboons or any other 
beasts that might pay ns a visit. 

In short, the shooting of all kinds, to which 
my husband had been looking forward, was a 
complete delusion, and the game, with which we 
were told the hills abounded, consisted of one 
deer, which seemed half tame, and used to stand 

on a rock and gaze at me when Gr had gone 

to his work. It displayed marvellous self-posses- 
sion too on the occasion of my preparing to have 
a shot at it, and did not seem half so much scared 
as an " orderly," who had been sent out from 
Utrecht, and who evidently suspected me of 
suicidal intentions. 

Baboons were not the only cause of alarm 
in our camp. Formidable snakes lay coiled up 

under the rocks ; scorpions, which X took a 

sort of fiendish delight in impaling, frequented the 
stones of our fireplace; and a mysterious some- 
thing used to come at night and eat up the 
remains of our dinner. From a quill which we 
picked up, we should have supposed it to have 

been a porcupine, if it had not been that X , 

who heard its stealthy footsteps in the night, and 



who refused to go out, though armed with his 
rifle, knew it to be a lion or a tiger. 

In spite of the want of life, which is a great 
drawback to South African scenery, these appa- 
rently barren hills are in reality the homes of 
hundreds of Kafirs, whose kraals are so artfully 
concealed in the ^^ khloofs " and bush, that at first 
we, as strangers, supposed ourselves to be alone in 
the wilderness. This romantic illusion was rudely 
dispelled one day, when I heard a loud war-cry 
overhead, and, looking up, perceived a ELafir, who, 
armed with shield and sheaf of light assegais, was 
violently shrieking and gesticulating on the 
summit of the crag. Instantly the cry was taken 
up from the opposite hill, and before I had time 
to recover from my astonishment, the whole 
valley re-echoed with shouts. 

The explanation of this mystery soon presented 
itself in the shape of a Kafir, who, fully armed, 
seemed, like the warriors of Eoderick Dhu, to 
spring out of the ground at my elbow. But as 
this gentleman was only able to express himself 
by signs and gesticulations, I supposed him to be 
begging for " scoflF," * which I oflFered him, and 

* Bread, Anglic^. 


which he sat down to consume, postponing, as is 
their maimer, his urgent business till he had 
satisfied his hunger. This was such a lengthy 
affair, that long before it was over he was 
joined by four or five more, all fully armed, 
all gesticulating violently, and all subsiding into 
tranquillity at the exhibition of "scoff.'' 

As, however, a Kafir's appetite is by no means 
a thing to be trifled with, and as I saw no reason 
why these self-invited guests should not be 
arriving in continuous detachments, I ran up to 
the camp for an interpreter, and when the clamour 
occasioned by their all addressing him at once 
was in some degree subdued, I was able by his 
aid to elucidate the mystery. They were Kafir 
policemen from Utrecht, who, infra dig. though it 
may sound, were in pursuit of a couple of British 
soldiers who had deserted from the camp. These 
unfortimates were at this very moment climbing 
painfully down the rocks, their halting gait con- 
trasting vividly with the light and active step 
of their captors. They were painfully jaded and 
worn, and looked almost ready to faint with 
hunger and fatigue, as they stumbled into camp 
amidst the rapidly augmenting crowd of exultant 


This little incident, though of no importance in 
itself, was an illustration of the i-apidity with 
which Kafirs can concentrate on a given point, 
even in the roughest country, and their dark skin 
makes them so difficult to distinguish from the 
bush, that until they are actually on the spot, you 
would not suppose yourself to be within miles of 



The Marble Eall, Utrecht, 

Augvst 25. 

Once more back in dusty Utrecht, and extremely 
sorry to have been obliged to leave our beautiful 
perch, and give up " gipsying " amongst the hills. 
I brought down with me a fine collection of ferns, 
which grew under the big stones on all the slopes 
facing north, and my husband shot a few speci- 
mens of the brilliant-plumaged birds that flashed 
amongst the bush and plunged their slender bills 
into the huge bunches of scarlet flowers that 
grew on the curiously dead-looking, leafless trees. 
For the last few days up there, however, the 
cold had been unendurable ; snow had even fallen, 
and had withstood the melting powers of the sun 
for two or three days, imparting to the hills quite 
homelike effects, which we never expected to have 
seen in South Africa. 


But, refreshing as it was to be able to fancy 
ourselves for a moment in England, the illusion, 
unluckily, did not carry us so far as to make 
us imagine ourselves inside substantial walls, and 
sitting in front of a glowing fire, with a good 
sheet of plate-glass instead of a thin canvas, 
between us and the cold. And it is marvellous 
how unexhilarating is even the most bracing 
cold, when it has to be encountered in a tent like 
a sieve, with the moon and stars beautifully 
visible overhead, and through which the wind 
sweeps as it listeth, ruffling your hair aa you 
lie in bed. 

It is distinctly not amusing, but, on the con- 
trary, to the last degree dreadful and depressing, 
to have to lie in bed to get warm, and, finding that 
fail, to have to get up to avoid being frozen ; to 
have to sit in a tent like a wet rag, with all your 
clothes as wet as if (in laimdry parlance) they had 
been " damped for ironing," with the utter im- 
possibility of drying them staring you in the face. 
It is not inspiriting to know that nothing except 
the suspension of the ordinary laws of cause and 
effect can save you from an attack of ague or 
rheumatic fever; to have your chair, your bed- 


stead, anything that unsuspectedly touches the 
tent, turned straightway into a channel for the 
conduction of a miniature waterspout; to strike 
your head against the tent, and bring a perfect 
shower-bath upon your clothes, which will have 
to dry of their own accord — when the sun comes 
out, probably in a day or two ! — to have no 
lunch, because the snow and rain have put the 
fire out ; to make your dinner off watery stew, 
plus any amount of grease; and, moreover, to 
have to eat the said stew out of its native stew- 
pan, because the state of the weather renders any 
attempt at " dishing up " ridiculous. 

If any very young person should be misled by 
a fervid imagination into fancying that such a life 
has a savour of romantic wildness and freedom 
about it calculated to compensate to those of a 
romantic turn for the absence of mere material 
comforts, let him take a tent, and let him pitch it 
— say, for instance — in the Regent's Park, about 
the beginning of December, and, provided next 
winter resembles in any degree the last, he will 
have very cheaply purchased an appreciation of 
all the comfortable conventionalities of life that 
will last him to his dying day. 


Since onr return to Utrecht, it is not the cold 
that we have been martyrs to, but the dust. Oh, 
the hours that those sandstorms blow day after 
day! and oh, the imspeakable griminess and gritti- 
ness of everji;hing get-at-able, clothes and pro- 
visions included ! All day long a sort of dull red 
cloud seems sweeping across the veldt, and an 
incessant storm of hot sand, that cuts into your 
face and eyes like needles, hails down upon the 
tent. The wind, too, which is hot and parching 
to an extraordinary degree, does not seem to come 
iu pufiFs and gusts, as it does at home, but in one 
continuous, unbroken blast, that makes you feel 
quite out of breath to hear it. Everything taken 
up from the table leaves a perfect representation 
of itself, printed in the dust, which has collected 
round it, though it may not have been lying there 
more than five minutes or so ; and from time to 
time, sand will pour in at the door of the tent, 
which is always, of course, rigidly laced and 
closed, as if some one were emptying it out of a 
fimnel. Everything eatable has to be brought to 
table in a covered saucepan, and even the teapot, 
at such times, appears with a little hood of linen 
to protect the spout. 


The air, too, appears to get almost intolerably 
dry and burning. Our skins regularly seem to 
peel away, and our hands have cracks and chaps 
in them, as in the coldest weather at home. 
The few treasures the white ants left us have 
been entirely ruined by several weeks of this 
weather — ^books of all kinds warping out of all 
recognition, even though kept in drawers; and 
the ivory cases of my opera- glasses splitting into 
a hundred pieces, imtil there is nothing left of 
them to hold the lenses together. The incessant 
noise and flapping of the tent is wearying 
beyond belief, and the bulging and motion of it 
make one feel almost as if one were on a ship, 
watching the sails ; some people even going so 
far, as to say that it makes them sea-sick. 

This was imcomfortable enough, and a few 
weeks' experience of such discomforts determined 
us to look about for some means of putting a roof 
over our heads, even if it should be no better 
than a bam. 

A bam, indeed, was the proper designation 
for the only quarters that offered, being two 
perfectly bare, unpapered rooms in a thatched 
cottage, standing almost in the camp, which had 


been hitherto in the occupation of Captain 
Moriarty, of the 80th,* and his wife. The owner 
of the cottage, an old Dutchman, named Maritz, 
lives in the other half of it, and upon the 80th 
being ordered to Pretoria, my husband and I 
succeeded to the rooms, into which we removed 
our very few goods and chattels on September 3. 
Although we have no carpet on the floor, and 
only whitewashed walls, and a thatched roof 
guiltless of ceiling, we revel in being able to shut 
out the sand that we see blowing for hours 
together through the camp, and congratulate our- 
selves, at the thought of having a roof of some 
sort between us and the weather, with a feeling 
of luxurious content, to which the typical " prince 
in his palace " is a stranger. 

We did not escape from the laager, though, 
without a taste of the thimderstorms, which we 
had been told were so severe in these districts. 
About a week before we left we had a regular 
semi-tropical storm of wind and rain. It had been 
pouring steadily for some hours previously, and 
about 9 p.m., as we were sitting by the fire, we 
heard a noise in the distance, as if whole troops 

* Since killed at Intombe. 


of horses were galloping over the veldt. After 
listening to it for a moment — " That is the rain," 
I said to my husband, and almost at the same 
instant the tent was struck by a blast, with a 
regular roar like a cannon, while down came the 
rain with perfectly awful force on the tent, which, 
of course, tightened in a few minutes, till we 
thought every peg must have been pulled out of 
the groimd. The great drops soimded on the 
straining canvas like peas on a drumhead, and 
the wind kept up such an incessant roar that, if 
we had not shouted, my husband and I could not 
have heard each other speak. The bulging of the 
tent was such that we expected the pole to come 

down every moment. Gr held on to it with 

all his might, while I stood near the door, to 
be ready in case of contingencies. But luckily, 
in spite of the weight of water on it, the 
tent stood well, though our walls were rapidly 
crumbling away imder the influence of small 
waterspouts in divers places. 

The storm lasted about twenty minutes, and 

G then went out to see how our other tents 

stood. Our sleeping-tent had weathered the 
storm marvellously well, but our little maid's 



tent had had all the pegs torn out on one 
side, and the pole was leaning over at a con- 
siderable angle. Inside, everything was soaking 
— bed, clothes, all, wringing wet. But other 
people were in still worse case; the hospital 
and library marquees were blown clean away, 
and the water was running like a sluice through 
the company-tents, which were pitched on a 
sloping part of the camp. We had to be ex- 
tremely thankful that we were able, after half 
an hour's work re-making our bed and pouring the 
water out of our boots like buckets, to find a 
comer that was only damp wherein to sleep, and 
not to have to spend the night sitting on an 
island of luggage, and watching the water run 
through the tent, as not unfrequently happens 
here, to the dwellers under canvas, during the 
rainy season. 

In this cottage we are housed, to the envy 
of those we have left behind us in the laager. 
It is true that we have no carpets, and almost as 
little furniture, but the few "sticks" we have, are 
above high water-mark, and consist of a couple of 
tables, and what upholsterers term "an elegant 
sufficiency of chairs," namely, two wooden ones. 


which we hire, although we are, if we choose, 
privileged to buy them cheap, at a trifling outlay 
of a pound apiece. 

The only addition to our household gods 
which we have lately permitted ourselves to make, 
consists of a very handsome teapot, constructed 
on artistic principles, out of the purest block-tin, 
and which we purchased dirt-cheap at the store 

for seven shillings and sixpence — though X 

says he has heard of people being known some- 
times to pick such tilings up at home for even a 
less sum than half a crown. For ornamental pur- 
poses, no teapot could be more eminently suited, 
but, of course, so choice an article was never in- 
tended for coarse domestic uses, which was doubt- 
less the reason why the spout came oflF the first 
time we tried it, and the handle the second; 
but that is the case with most of the manu- 
factured goods and hardware imports from home. 
All are evidently more fitted for decorative than 
useful purposes, for which first, as I have said, 
they are in general admirably designed. 

Besides ourselves, the " Marble Hall," * as it is 

* Christened the "Marble Hall/' not from its interior 
luxuries and comforts, bnt from the dazzling nature of its 
TV'hitewaslied walls. 


sarcastically designated by envious sojourners in 
the camp, is occupied, as I said, by our landlord 
and his wife — a couple of inoffensive old people, 
who inhabit a few rooms at the opposite end 
of the house. 

Although quiet enough themselves, they are 
for days at a time besieged by hosts of their 
descendants, to the third and fourth generations, 
who arrive in all sorts of tilted vans and wagons, 
and fill the little house, creating a perfect din of 
screaming and conversation, till we feel. as if we 
had taken a lodging in the neighbourhood of the 
Tower of Babel ! 

At such times, the poor old gentleman himself 
is regularly crowded out, and is obliged to take 
refuge on the bench beside his door, or spend 
half an hour in our (comparatively) quiet sitting- 
room, where he sits in his broad-brimmed hat, 
leaning, like Jacob, upon his staff, and, shaking 
his head, sadly enunciates from time to time the 
sentiment that " Life is full of ter-rubble. Ah, 
my goodness ! Nothing but ter-rubble ! " winding 
up generally by pulling a couple of oranges out 
of his pocket, and presenting them to me on 
taking leave. 


Mr. Maritz, being connected with the land- 
rost of the town, we are sometimes honoured by 
a call from this gentleman, when we receive a 
great deal of information about the Zulus, and 
exchange views respecting the military and 
political prospects of the country. It is a great 
relief to find in this wilderness a man so 
agreeable and well-informed, and diflfering only 
from a well-educated Englishman, by a very 
slight peculiarity of accent. 

On returning his visit, we foimd ourselves 
for once in a really comfortable, well-furnished 
house, where the host received us at a table 
covered with books and papers, and reading a 
not more than middle-aged number of Temple 
Bar. We had quite to rub our eyes to remind 
ourselves that we were not in England, and it 
was an additional proof of the value which we 
set on books that, on taking our departure, I did 
not venture to ask for a loan of this precious 
volume, but went oflF, carrying a very dry and 
uninteresting tome imder my arm, which nobody 
could set much store by. 

Many were the deputies from Cetewayo who 
gathered round the walls of Mr. Rudolph's house^ 


and by no one are the peculiarities of the Kafir 
more thoroughly imderstood. Personally ac- 
quainted with the Zulu king, and in continual 
correspondence with him, no one is better able to 
give an opinion as to his future policy ; and though 
naturally somewhat reserved as to an expression 
of it, we could easily gather that he did not 
regard a pacific settlement of the difficulties as 
liopeless. One of the pleasantest recollections of 
South Africa that we shall carry away will be 
that of the genial hospitality of Mr. Rudolph. 




October 20. 

We little thought, as we were watching the dust- 
storms that swept the camp, and looking forward 
to the ripening of Mr. Maritz's peaches — a splendid 
crop of which was foreshadowed by the abundant 
blossoming of the trees in front of our house — 
that our next letters would be dated from Maritz- 

That this is the case, was in consequence of a 
letter from the Horse Guards, which came a short 
month ago, ordering two officers to the dep6t of 
the regiment, and the colonel, in complying with 
this command, offered my husband one of the 
vacancies, saying that in case of active operations 
there would in all probability be an opportunity 
of his rejoining the service companies.* 

* Since this letter was written, my husband has rejoined 

his regiment in the field. 



After much tribulation and many search- 
in gs of heart, Gr " accepted the offer, and 

when the difficult question of making up our 
minds was set at rest, nothing could exceed 
the alacrity and excitement with which we com- 
menced our small preparations for the homeward 

When the moment of departure arrived, we 
bade adieu to the friends left behind, with feelings 
in which regret largely mingled with the joy we 
felt at anticipations of home. 

We took a tent to sleep in, and my husband's 

new servant (X 's infirmities having at last 

compelled him to resign) was allowed to accom- 
pany us as far as Maritzburg. 

All the asperities of the journey were smoothed 
by the kind consideration of those in authority, 
and it partook — as Greneral Evelyn Wood said, 
in his kind parting words — " more of the nature 
of a pleasant picnic" than is at all wont to be 
the case with journeys undertaken in the ordinary 
course of duty in these parts. 

Forty-eight hours were given us in which 
to complete our arrangements and to pack our 
furniture and belongings — not too long a 


notice, considering all we had to do, but to be 
going home we would gladly have got ready in 
half the time. We moved about as if we were 
in a dream, and I hardly realized that in a few 
hours Utrecht would know us no more; even 
though I got up several times in the night to 
make quite certain that the great wagon was 
standing outside our door, waiting for its final 
load, with the driver snoring on his blanket 

How many evenings had I not sat on the step 
beside the door, watching the stars come out 
above those dreary hills ; and wondering if there 
was not one amongst them that could look down 
upon the dear faces at home ! Already the weary 
months that we have spent amongst the hot sands 
of Utrecht seem fading away into the past of years 
ago; though the look of those parched, never- 
ending plains, with the camp spread like a white 
handkerchief, and the monotonous, table-hills 
standing roimd, as we used to see it from the 
pass, is, I feel, indelibly fixed upon my memory. 
I only hope that if I ever fancy myself in 
dreams once more at Utrecht, the view that I 
shall see will be the exquisite bit of colouring 


which met our eyes through the little window 
of our Dutch cottage that looked back upon the 
hills. I trust that I shall always see the tall 
pomegranate hedge, with its scarlet waxen tassels, 
and glossy leaves whose myrtle darkness formed 
a bold but harmonious contrast with the vivid 
green of the young com that was to be seen 
through the gaps of its luxuriant thickness, and 
that melted away in turn into the soft purple of 
the hills. Brilliant and daring as was this 
splendid combination of colours (gorgeous as 
that bit of landscape introduced into Holman 
Hunt's grand " Shadow of the Cross," and resem- 
bling in tone nothing else that I have ever 
seen), there was nothing glaring, nothing dis- 
cordant in it, viewed through the softly tinted 
medium of the mellow African atmosphere. Even 
the peach trees — sturdy standards here, and not 
to be recognized as belonging to the same family 
as their sickly cousins at home, who have to be 
supported against a south wall, and tucked up 
every frosty night in bass and matting — struck 
no inharmonious note; they gave a delicious 
rosiness, almost like that of morning, as they 
read everywhere their sheets of blossom, and 


died away amongst the soft greens and purples 
like delicate pink clouds. 

When the moment came, I really think our old 
host and hostess were sorry to part with us. The 
old lady embraced me, and gave me her blessing in 
a manner absolutely maternal; and the last person 
who bade us adieu was old Maritz himself, sitting 
on his bench in his broad-brimmed hat, and 
basking in the morning sun. 

A few days before I left Utrecht, there was 
pointed out to me a man who, in the event 
of hostilities being declared, may become a 
celebrity one of these days. He was a brother 
of Cetewayo — not Oham, from whom a depu- 
tation to the landrost arrived the other day, 
and who is suspected to be not altogether un- 
willing to forsake the interests of his brother — but 
we presume some less legitimate offshoot of the 
royal stock, who had come to negotiate, as usual, 
some business matter with Mr. Rudolph. I 
suppose it was with a view to enhancing his 
dignity, and showing the progress he had per- 
sonally made towards a high pitch of civilization, 
that he had discarded his national undress, and 
appeared in a battered billycock, and an old bit 


of a jacket, in which he seemed a shabby-looking 
Kafir enough. However deceitful and treacherous 
they may be, there is still something very pa- 
thetic in the eflforts these imfortunate savages 
make, by copying as best they can our dress and 
manners, to give themselves as they imagine an 
increased importance in our eyes, an additional 
title to our consideration and respect. It is as 
if they reached beyond themselves, to grasp at 
the fruits of what they feel dimly to be a higher 
civilization, as their only means of forcing 
us to admit their claim to a footing on that 
common intellectual level, which the white man 
ever concedes with innate reluctance to the sons 
of Ham. 

The journey down country was marked by 
no special incident. We left the beaten track, 
and, making for the BuflFalo river some miles 
further south, avoided the main road with its 
bustle of wagons and post-carts, and pursued 
our slow and tiresome journey by an almost 
obliterated route till we once more came in sight 
of the Biggarsberg range, lifting their rugged 
heads and seeming to bar our progress. 

The terrible drought which had prevailed so 


long had dried up many a " spruit " which on the 
inarch up had provided us with water, and the 
length of each day's journey was of course deter- 
mined by the position of the springs. Add to 
this, that the country was terribly burnt up, and 
that the veldt, which at this season ought to 
have been green with the young grass, looked 
as if it had gone through a furnace; and it can 
easily be believed how much our oxen suffered, 
even though our wagon carried an unusually 
light load. 

I was glad not to leave South Africa with- 
out having seen an ostrich, . and a couple of 
wild ones, appearing and disappearing in the dis- 
tance as we approached the Buffalo, created quite 
an excitement in our little party. A son of 
Mr. Maritz picked up an egg near here a short 
time ago ; but the nests themselves are generally 
too carefully placed and too securely guarded by 
the male bird to be easily rifled. In fact, the 
male ostrich, hke the cock pigeon, takes his fiiU 
share, and often more than his share, of domestic 
duties — in making the nest for the hen ; inducing, 
and if she is young and inexperienced, fairly com- 
pelling, her to sit upon it ; sharing the labours of 


incubation, when lie reserves the night duty for 
himself; helping to protect and feed theyonng; 
and, in fact, doing everything except laying 
the eggs himself. In a semi-tame condition, the 
ostrich is sometimes tempted to become a bigamist, 
but even in that demoralized state he continues 
to discharge his parental obligations with un- 
diminished zeal. And, though he allows his 
two wives to share the task of sitting during 
the day between them, he will not suffer any 
one to divide with him the onerous respon- 
sibility of keeping guard over the eggs at 
night. A gentleman who had spent many years 
of his life in keeping ostriches and studying 
their ways, told me that the conscientious per- 
formance of the domestic duties chiefly depends 
on the morale of the male bird. Until the tale of 
eggs is complete, the whole family often huddle 
together in the nest, and apparently treat this 
solemn institution with unbecoming levity. As 
soon as the process of laying is complete, the 
male bird takes the first spell of sitting, and 
then gives place to the ladies, whom he is very 
careful to see thoroughly carry out their domestic 


The severity of the drought was fully proved 
by the state of the Buffalo river, which at this 
season, usually fiill to the brim, was now a 
meagre brook, that hardly rose above the hoofs of 
the oxen as they stopped in mid-stream to quench 
their thirst. The farther we went the worse it 
seemed, and it was only by the help of occasional 
"forage," which the exigencies of the case fully 
demanded, that we managed to get over the 
ground at aU. But, everything considered, we 
made fair average " treks " (two and a half 
miles an hour being considered first-rate going in 
an ox-wagon — indeed, it is the ntmost rate of 
speed that can be kept up for any time), and 
twelve days after our departure from Utrecht we 
saw Maritzburg lying below us from the Town 

To our eyes, so long unaccustomed to any 
collection of houses, it looked of imposing magni- 
tude, and fully meriting the distinctive title of 
" the city," which we so grudgingly accorded it 
on our march up country. How pretty it looked 
too, especially to dwellers fresh from the wilder- 
ness like ourselves, embowered in trees — an oasis 
in the plain, that rolled its grassy waves and 


slopes in every direction as far as the eye could 
reach, with the cathedral peeping out from amidst 
the greenery, Fort Napier and the tents lying in 
foreground to the right! 

Ever since we have heen here, we have been 
hurrying from shop to shop, making our final pur- 
chases, and getting our outfit for the homeward 
voyage ; winding up with the stupendous dissipa- 
tion of going to the ball which was given to the 
High Commissioner. 

This ball has been the topic of conversation 
everywhere for weeks past, and the distances 
people have travelled to attend it ought to have 
been recorded on emblazoned vellum pages for 
presentation to Sir Bartle Frere, as conveying (in 
the present state of transport) a compliment that 
could hardly be too highly appreciated. 

To our eyes, accustomed to the crush in ball- 
rooms at home, the perfect absence of any attempt 
at a crowd had rather a chilling effect, though I 
can easily believe that so many of the aristocracy 
of Natal had never been got together for social 
purposes before. 

The ball-room was the coolest I have ever 
been in, and I think the high gods who occupied 


Olympian seats upon the stage must have found 
the draughts there almost more than refreshing. 
There was a strong muster of the beauty and 
feshion of Natal, and if the lovely English com- 
plexions were conspicuous by their absence, it 
was, of course, the climate that was in fault. 
For myself, I presented a spectacle which people 
at home would have gazed upon with awe, ex- 
hibiting a face of brilliant brick-red, beautifully 
set off by a white dress and cap — a brother officer 

of G 's assuring me that I was by far the 

darkest (or at least most highly coloured) white 
lady he had seen during the whole course of 
his pretty extensive experience. But, forbid it, 
Heaven, that I should allow a little sun tan, and 
the meagre condition of my travelling wardrobe, 
to withhold me from enthusiastically gazing upon 
a personage whose efforts have been so largely 
calculated to aid, let us say, promotion in my 
husband's profession! 

The only part of the arrangements that left 
anything to be desired was the supper, which was 
badly arranged on long tables crowded together 
as if for a school feast, half the seats being so 
nearly inaccessible that you had to struggle 


and, as Yankees say, " squirm " to get at them, 
as if you were pushing your way to a stall at 
the opera. 

Seeing we contributed fifty shillings as our 
share towards the success of the entertainment, 
we feel we have a right to hope Sir Bartle Frere 
enjoyed his ball. The tickets sound expensive, 
but must in reality have been cheapness itself, 
considering that very excellent champagne was 
supplied to both guests and waiters with equal 
copiousness — a fact of which my husband had 
ocular demonstration in the supper-room. 

November 3. 

Life being made up of partings, in due course 

the moment came for us to say farewell to Maritz- 

burg, though my husband felt that his good-bye 

would probably not be a final one ; and when we 

found ourselves once more in our comfortable hotel 

at Durban, I seemed to realize, for the first time, 

that we were going home. There was yet another 

parting to be gone through, The faithful Kafir, 

who had accompanied us in all our waii4wings, 

* ^ 

was put up to auction on the same market square 


where I had purchased her some eight or nine 
months ago, and she went ofiF very contentedly 
with her new owner, and, to all appearances, with 
no regret for her old ones. 

We have our usual luck in getting on this 
ship, seeing that she rolls so tremendously that 
one almost wonders why she does not turn quite 
over and come up like a porpoise on the other side. 
Of course, her admirers apologize for this by say- 
ing she is never known to pitch, which it is 
difficult to be surprised at, seeing that, in her pro- 
portions, she resembles nothing so much as a 
gigantic darning-needle. For the last four days we 
have had such a swell, and heavy sea, as surprise 
even those who know this coast, and till yesterday 
we have not had a moment's rest, day or night. It 
is so wearying ; glass and china smashing whole- 
sale, wine and beer running all over the dinner- 
table, impossible to keep still anywhere, till I took 
refuge in my berth, where, wedged in with chairs 
and pillows, I sought the rest that we all so 
wished for. The captain, however, slung a ham- 
mock for me on the poop, and I lay there several 
hours during the two worst days. 

Our troubles began when we got on the tug 


at Durban to come over the bar to the ship. We 
were all on deck. I was sitting aft amongst the 

soldiers, so was G , when we got to the bar 

and all the water began splashing up. We 

managed, though, to keep tolerably dry, and G 

said we were over at last ; so we began to breathe 
again. Alas! we were rather premature in our 
congratulations — at that minute we were just on 
the bar. A great, green, white-crested wave 
appeared at the side ; I had just time to sit down 
on the floor and hold on to some fixture or other, 
when the wave was on us, swept clean over our 
heads, and left some tons of water swilling about 
on the deck, which took some time running off. 
We were all drenched from head to foot, but we 
have got so used to trifling accidents of this 
nature that we only laughed, though we had not 
a dry thread amongst us. Those who were " for- 
rard " did not get into such a pickle ; but the 
worst was yet to come. When we reached the 
ship, the sea became so rough that it was im- 
possible to embark more than a few of the men. 
These got off the tug on to a lighter that was 
alongside the Tyne, and from her scrambled up 
the ship's side by a rope-ladder; but the swell 


was SO great that, as the lighter rose almost to 
a level with the deck of the great troopship, the 
men ran considerable risk of having their legs 
cmshed between the two. Also the master of the 
tug, which was grinding against the lighter, 
afiraid of breaking her up and having to pay 
damages, after much shotiting and exchange 
of firiendly (?) sentiments with the crew of the 
Tyne, put off again with us on board, and lay at 
some distance, awaiting the arrival of one of 
the Tynes lifeboats. 

The sea was, however, too rough to enable 
them to do more than embark me and a few 
invalids, and it was no easy matter to get into 
the lifeboat from the tug. Some of the poor men 
were nervous, and if you missed your footing 
when the boat rose, it was a case of waiting for 
the next roll. At last we all literally tumbled 
into the boat, and then began " climbing up the 
climbing waves," and rushing down-hill the other 
side, till we managed to come alongside the Tt/tie. 
There were great difficulties to contend with even 
here. It was so hard in this " perpetual motion " 
to reach the ship's ladder, though there were 
sailors there to catch us. We had to stand on the 


edge of the boat and seize a rope from the ship, 
and, as the boat rose, make a spring for the ladder, 
the sailors calling out " Now ! " when the fatal 
moment arrived. They called out " Now ! " to me 
at the wrong moment, just as the boat sank again 
into the trough of the sea, so I missed the ladder 
and tumbled back into the boat. However, at the 
next jump I caught it all right, and came down 
on " all-fours " on the ladder, a wave of course 
drenching me again, and so I was dragged into 
the ship. A good sleep between blankets while 
my clothes were drying soon restored me, and I 
woke up none the worse. 

With the next tide the remainder of the men 
and the baggage were safely slung on board in 
a basket, and soon after the shores of Natal were 
sinking out of sight as the Tyne plunged through 
the heavy swell. 

Nothing worth mentioning remains to be 
added to my South African experiences. Simon's 
Bay and Capetown are so well known that any 
description of them would be rendered stale by 
repetition. These few pages pretend to no impor- 
tance, and have no higher aim than the amusement 
of an idle half-hour. Proud should I feel if I could 


hope that I have helped, even by a few faint 
touches, to render more distinct and clear that 
picture of a comparatively unfamiliar country 
which English men and women are trying to 
bring before their imagination at this moment.